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What Should I Include In My Will?

What Should I Include In My Will?

Your will explains who should inherit your possessions after you die, contains instructions for your funeral, can include instructions to set up trusts, and if you have children under 18 it can name a guardian for them.

Importantly however there are important criteria that make a will valid:

  • in England and Wales a will needs to be signed and dated by two independent witnesses (in Scotland only one witness is required). Witnesses cannot inherit anything from your will or benefit from your will in any way, however they can act as executors (more about this below).
  • you must have mental capacity to make your will
  • you must make your will without being put under any pressure to do so or being influenced as to what you put in your will

Checklist of things to include in a will

1. Title or description

It is important that you make it clear that the document is your will. Include a title or the phrase “This is my last will and testament”, and the date that you are writing your will.

2. Your details

Include your full name, date of birth and address

3. Executor details

An executor, or executors, are the people who will administer your estate and carry out the wishes that you include in your will. You can name up to 4 executors in your will, however it is most common to name two, just in case one is unwilling or unable to act as your executor when required.

4. Details about your assets

Your assets are your possessions. These can include:

  • your home and any other property or land
  • other items such as cars, jewellery, furniture, artwork, etc.
  • savings in banks or building societies
  • National Savings, such as premium bonds
  • investments such as stocks and shares or trusts
  • intellectual property such as patents, copyrights and royalties
  • digital assets such as email accounts, social media accounts
  • insurance policies or endowment policy
  • pension funds that include a lump sum payment on death

5. Beneficiary details

The beneficiaries of your will are the people (or charities), who you wish to receive your assets once you have died.

6. Instructions on how your estate should be distributed

You may wish to leave specific items to different beneficiaries and divide the remaining estate equally, or by percentages. If you choose to leave a portion of your estate to a charity this may have inheritance tax benefits.

7. Guardian details

If you have a child or children under 18 it is important to name a person, or people, that you trust who are willing to look after them should you die.

8. Trusts

You may wish to leave assets in trust and these can be set out in your will. Trusts can provide for the care of a loved one who does not have the mental capacity to manage finances on their own for example.

9. Funeral arrangements

You can include details about the type of funeral you would like in your will, and instructions on whether you wish to be buried or cremated.

When to seek legal advice

Your will is an important document and when set out correctly it can remove at least a little of the worry and distress that your loved ones will be experiencing at a very difficult time. If your situation is not straightforward however, it would be advisable to seek advice from a professional.

For example:

  • if you share a property with someone who is not your husband, wife or civil partner
  • if you have property overseas
  • if you have a business
  • if you have a dependant who cannot care for themselves

Notes

  • Keep your will somewhere safe. It may be stored in your home, with a solicitor, your bank, a will storage company, or with the Probate Service
  • Be sure to tell your executor/s or a trusted relative or friend where your will is.
  • If you marry, remarry or enter a civil partnership, this cancels any previous will. If you divorce your will remains valid, however your ex-spouse or civil partner will not be able to benefit if they are mentioned in the will. Arrange a new will if you marry, separate or divorce.
  • If you have step-children and you wish them to be included in your will, it is important that you explicitly mention them, as they will not automatically be considered as one of “my children” for example.
  • If you do not have a valid will when you die then your estate will need to be distributed by the rules of intestacy.

If you do not have a Will or it requires updating, we would be happy help. Call us today on Bingley 01274 723858,  Ilkley 01943 601173 or Bradford 01274 735511.

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Registered office: 30 Park Road, Bingley, Bradford BD16 4JD. We are solicitors practising in England and Wales, authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. SRA Number 622886. A copy of the SRA Standards and Regulations can be found at www.sra.org.uk.. VAT No: 708421255.

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