Wills are complex legal documents that contain a wealth of information about your assets and wishes. However, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the technicalities, which may cause you to worry that not all essential information is included.
To offer our support, we’ve put together some guidance about what you may include in your Will.
A lot of essential information needs to be contained in your Will to make the administration process run as smoothly as possible. With this in mind, be sure to include information such as:
- Your Executor – Executors are responsible for distributing your Estate according to the terms of your Will. Being an Executor is a huge responsibility, and you must select someone who will act in your best interest. For this reason, some people appoint a professional Executor to ensure their wishes are carried out.
- Money and assets – Your Estate is the term for everything you own. When writing your Will, it’s vital to know what you own and what you may own when you pass away. This includes life insurance policies, pensions, stocks and shares, and properties.
- Beneficiaries – Once you have compiled your list of assets, your Will must include who you want to inherit them. There are no limits to the number of beneficiaries you can choose, and your Executor can also be a beneficiary. However, a witness to your Will cannot be a beneficiary. If a beneficiary witnesses a Will signing, any assets you may have left to them will fail. It is also good practice to determine what should happen if your beneficiaries pass away before you.
- Children – If you have children under 18, your Will should dictate who will care for them if you pass away. If you leave assets to your children, you may not want them to inherit immediately. In this event, you can choose to establish a trust that requires your children to reach a specific milestone, such as age, marriage, or buying their first home, before the assets or money is released.
- Digital assets – Many people are beginning to own more significant amounts of digital assets, such as photographs, music, and films. If you have any digital assets, you may choose to bequeath them to a beneficiary in your Will. Other digital assets that you may decide to pass on can also include social media accounts.
In your Will, you can also outline instructions for your funeral, such as if you would like to be buried or cremated and any special services to include at your funeral. However, these instructions are not legally binding. Your Executor will be able to make decisions about your funeral, although last wishes are commonly followed to spare your loved ones from making difficult decisions when grieving. Funeral plans may also be in place by the time your Will is read, so it may be more effective to share your wishes with a loved one outside of your Will.
Leaving property in your Will can be slightly more complex than leaving other gifts. For example, you may be unable to pass on your home if you do not own it outright and passing it on may depend on if you own it jointly with your spouse or partner. Below, we have shared some more information about leaving property.
- You can name a new property owner in your Will if you own your home outright.
- If you are still repaying a mortgage when you pass away, your heirs will need to make arrangements with the bank or mortgage lenders to keep the home.
- If your property is held in joint tenancy, your half of the property will pass to the surviving tenant.
- If your property is held in a tenancy in common, your share of the property can be left to someone else in your Will, who will become a tenant in common with the other owner.
You may also grant someone a right of residence in your property whilst passing the ownership to someone else. This allows them to remain in your property for a set amount of time, such as until they move into care or pass away, even if you grant ownership to another person.
If your needs are not straightforward, writing a Will can be challenging. As a result, it is advisable to seek legal advice from a professional to ensure that your assets go to the right people, for example, if you:
- Own property overseas
- Own a business
- Are leaving money to a dependent who cannot care for themselves
- Have family members who may claim your Will
When writing your Will, be as specific as possible and include everything you own, who you would like it to be left to, and who will execute your Estate.
Failure to do so could see your assets go to someone you would prefer them not to.
If your needs are more complex, contact The Planning Bee today. Our specialist paralegals are available to help you with bespoke Estate planning, establishing trusts, and they will walk you through your options and offer professional advice.