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Knowing what to include in your Will isn’t necessarily straightforward. Below we list some of the common things you need to think about before making a will.
You can use your Will to record any special wishes you’d like for your funeral, including what you want to happen to your body.
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The “executor” is the person who sorts out your affairs once you’re gone, and distributes inheritance to your loved ones.
Before choosing an executor, it’s important that you:
The role of executor comes with a lot of responsibility – and can take up a considerable amount of time. So it’s important to choose someone you trust and know can do the job properly.
In some cases – particularly for more complex estates – it can be better to appoint a professional executor instead.
We’ve acted as professional executors for many clients and have extensive experience dealing with the challenges involved. If you appoint Irwin Mitchell as your executor, you’ll also get the benefits of our Wills Assured service.
The people you leave an inheritance to are known as the “beneficiaries” of your estate. Some of the things you need to think about include:
You can exclude people from your Will. However, it’s important to seek legal advice to make sure your wishes will be carried out.
In some cases a person could contest your Will if they have been excluded, so it’s important to take legal advice if this is something you wish to do.
It can be useful in these circumstances to also include a Letter of Wishes with your Will. This document explains the reasons behind your decisions and can be very helpful for your executor – especially if they might need to defend a claim against your estate.
The inheritance tax threshold is £325,000. If the total value of your estate exceeds this – after you take off any debts or loans you have outstanding – you’ll be liable for inheritance tax.
Married couples and civil partners are usually entitled to transfer any unused threshold between themselves. This means that on the death of the surviving partner, their estate may be able to claim a double allowance of £650,000.
There’s also an additional relief now available known as the Residence Nil Rate Band. Not everyone is entitled to this, and the rules are complex, so you should take advice.
Making lifetime gifts can be another way to minimise inheritance tax. However, if you die within seven years, any gift could still be taxable.
You can also make provision in your Will to help minimise the amount of inheritance tax.
If you’re concerned that your estate might exceed the inheritance tax threshold, it’s important to take specialist advice.
Find out more about planning for inheritance tax.
If you have young children, you can name legal guardians for them in your Will. This will give you peace of mind for the future, knowing they’ll be looked after if anything happens to you.
When considering naming guardians, it’s important that you:
If you have property in more than one country, it’s important to plan appropriately.
You should make sure that your UK Will deals effectively with your UK assets, while ensuring your assets outside the UK are structured to work together with your UK Will to minimise your estate’s exposure to tax.
Find out more about international estate planning.
If there are particular items you want to leave to someone, you can specify this in your Will. For anyone you are leaving possessions to, you will need their full name and address.
As with any legacy you leave, you should also consider who you would want these possessions to go to, if they die before you.
If you are a business owner or shareholder in a private company, it’s important to consider how you want to pass your interests on. When you draft your Will, you should also address issues such as:
Read more about wills for business owners
When you make a Will you might also want to consider making a Power of Attorney, in case you lose mental capacity in later life. You can appoint an attorney to make decisions on your behalf about your finances and your healthcare.
Your Will needs to be kept somewhere that’s safe and secure, but that’s also easily accessible after your death. Our specialist storage facility makes sure your Will is kept safe from theft, fire and water damage, but your loved ones will be able to get to it quickly when they need to.
We can store your Will free of charge with our Wills Assured service.
If you’d like more advice on what to include in your Will, call us today on 0370 1500 100 – or fill out our online form and we’ll call you back.
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