Last week, in Part 1 of this series, we broached the subject of how important it is to set some time aside to plan what you intend to happen to your assets after your death.
An astonishing 60% of adults in the UK die intestate (without having made a will) meaning that their assets are distributed according to the laws of intestacy; and this can often contradict their own personal wishes.
The checklist below is a few of the key things you might wish to consider when planning your own will, and organizing your thoughts to accurately reflect your intentions.
1. WHAT ASSETS DO I HAVE?
Firstly, you’ll need to make a note of all of your assets, i.e. savings, investments and property owned by you (both in the UK and abroad). If possible, also record the value of your assets as there may be an element of financial or tax planning advice a solicitor can offer as part of your will making process.
2. WHO WILL BE MY BENEFICIARIES?
You will need to make a note of the people you wish to inherit your estate. This might seem pretty straight forward, but it can be a little more complicated than it first appears. The typical line on inheritance follows the spouse, children, grandchildren route. But have you considered what should happen if your spouse and children should die together in an accident? What happens if there are children from a previous relationship? Are there any people you wish to disinherit, such an estranged spouse or child?
3. WHO CAN I TRUST TO ENSURE MY WISHES ARE CARRIED OUT?
Executors are the people you nominate to ensure that the terms of your will are adhered to. Again, assumptions are often made that a person’s spouse or adult children are an obvious choice – but if there is a less than harmonious family relationship, you might want to consider the appointment of a professional executor.
Executors can also act as financial trustees, for example if there are any children below the age of 18 years, where the trustees manage their inheritance until they come of age.
4. WHO WILL LOOK AFTER MY CHILDREN?
If you have young children, it’s wise to name the individual/individuals whom you wish to look after them should you be unable to do so. This becomes of significant importance and will help to prevent any conflict should you and your spouse/partner die simultaneously.
5. WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MY BUSINESS?
If you the sole owner of a family business, you may wish to ensure its continuation either by passing the assets to family members or perhaps even a senior member of staff. It is very important to discuss succession within a business with your family at an early stage. This is especially important where some family members are not involved in the day-to-day running of the business who may feel unfairly treated if they are set to inherit a percentage of unequal value.
6. COULD MY WILL BE CONTESTED?
Make a note of anyone who might make a claim against your estate after you die. Do you have an estranged spouse, former spouse or civil partner that hasn’t remarried? Did you live with a partner for a number of years out of wedlock? Do you have any children whom you have cared for or, whilst not blood related have treated as family? All of these people may be able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.
7. WHAT OTHER THINGS SHOULD I BE THINKING ABOUT?
Ideally, making a will shouldn’t be something that’s done in isolation. It’s a great opportunity to review all of your financial affairs and put your house in order, by:
- Registering/reviewing any Lasting Power of Attorney you may have, which legally entitles another person(s) to manage your financial and/or care affairs should you become unable to do so yourself in the future.
- Looking at any Inheritance Tax Planning opportunities and consider whether a Home Protection Trust might preserve all/part of your home from being used to pay any care fees your surviving spouse or partner’s might incur after your death.
- Carrying out a Property Ownership review, taking a look at house deeds and associated legal documents.
- Carrying out a full Financial Review; ensuring that private pensions, investments, SIPPs and Life Assurance are all suitably invested and are accounted for as part of your estate.
Once you have this information together, that’s the hard bit done!
Now all that’s left to do is speak to a legal specialist, such as our wills, trust and probate solicitor Laura Bywater by calling 0161 615 5554 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Laura will swiftly navigate you through the rest of the simple process giving you the peace of mind that your estate will be dealt with in accordance with your wishes.