10 Important Things to Consider Before Making a Will

Published on 30 Aug 2023

Making a will is something that everyone should do even if you consider that you do not have many assets or possessions. One in three people do not have a will, and dying without one could lead to your assets passing to someone who you would not wish to benefit from your estate.

We appreciate that thinking of making a will may cause you worry or distress, and so we have compiled a list of 10 things that you should consider before making a will to try and make the process easier.

  1. Your Assets

Before seeing a solicitor to make a will, it is useful to make a list of the assets in your estate and, (if possible), obtain the most up to date valuations of those assets.

It is also important to know whether you own those assets on your own, or jointly with another person.

  1. Beneficiaries

It is sensible to make a list of people that you wish to include as beneficiaries of your estate.

Beneficiaries can take a percentage of your estate, a cash sum, or a specific asset or item that you want them to inherit.

Chief things to consider are:

  • If your beneficiaries are younger than 18 years old, at what age would you like them to inherit?
  • Do any of your beneficiaries lack capacity to manage their finances?
  • What would you want to happen to a beneficiary’s share if they died before you?
  • Would you want your beneficiaries to have access to their inheritance straight away?
  1. Children Under 18 Years Old

If you are the guardians of children who are under the age of 18 years, it is vital to consider who you would want to appoint as their guardian(s) if something happened to you and any other individuals, with parental responsibility, during their minority.

A Letter of Wishes can also be drafted to explain why you would wish that person/people to be their guardians.

It is always a good idea to have the discussion with them before appointing them in your will.

  1. Executors

When making a will, you will need to appoint an executor to act in the administration of the estate. The executor will deal with settling any debts, paying for the funeral and dealing with the estate as you have set out in your will.

We would recommend appointing at least two executors, or to appoint a substitute executor if your original executor cannot act.

A beneficiary can also be appointed as an executor.

  1. Financial Dependence

You should consider those who are financially dependent on you when making a will and making your solicitor aware of those individuals.

It may be that you would like to use your will to set some money, or an asset, aside for the use of an individual that you support financially during their lifetime, whether that be a child or a spouse/partner, rather than for that money to pass to someone else on their death.

  1. Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax is a tax applied to the estate of someone who has died. The standard rate is 40% which is applied to the part of your estate which is over the tax-free threshold (currently £325,000.00). Certain exemptions and reliefs apply and it is important to discuss these with your solicitor if you are concerned about inheritance tax.

Our lawyers can assist with inheritance tax planning to help avoid paying tax unnecessarily or helping you plan for the payment of inheritance tax.

  1. Assets Outside of the United Kingdom

If you have assets outside of the UK, it is important to make your solicitor aware of them.

Your will in the UK may be able to deal with your overseas assets, but it may be advisable to make a will in that country too, depending on your requirements, your inheritance tax position and the country where those assets are owned.

  1. Funeral Wishes

Funeral wishes in a will are not legally binding, but including them can be very useful as instructions for your family and executors, if they were not aware of your wishes, or to avoid disagreement between your family/executors.

You can use your will to record any wishes that you may have in respect of your funeral or the use of your body after your death.

  1. Excluding Someone from your Will

If you are excluding someone from your will who would have benefitted from your estate if you had not made a will, or who would have expected to inherit your estate, it is important that you make your solicitor aware.

Although it would not prohibit someone from making a claim against your estate, it is recommended that you store a statement with your will to explain why you have decided to exclude that person.

  1. Getting Married

A marriage revokes a will, unless that will is made in anticipation of marriage.

If you are planning on getting married in the future, it is important to make your lawyer aware of this.

If you get married after making a will, it is important to revisit the will to ensure that your estate still passes in accordance with your wishes.

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