What should go into your Will?
Your Will should contain the following essential elements: it must name your executors; lay out guardianship wishes for any children under the age of eighteen; distribute your assets; lay out details of any Trusts; and be carefully planned to minimise inheritance tax liability.
Naming the Executors
Naming an executor on your Will means you can decide who you wish to be responsible for administering your estate on your death. Choosing someone you can trust is important, as they will be responsible for distributing your Will according to your wishes. It is also worthwhile considering whether the person has good organisational skills and is responsible, as they are required by law to keep accurate accounts of your estate and pay any debts and taxes due. We would always advise you select someone younger than you to be your executor, such as a son or daughter – so that there is a better chance they survive you. You can, if you wish, choose more than one executor, but bear in mind that issues such as geographical proximity to each other can have an effect on how quickly the estate is wound up, where they will require to meet to agree on aspects of your estate. A substitute executor should also be appointed, should your executor die before you do. Our friendly and approachable Will & Estate Planning Consultants will be more than happy to give you more information on the role of the executor to help you decide who is best suited.
Guardianship for Your Children
Where you have young children under the age of eighteen, providing details of a person you would like to appoint as guardian is advisable in the event that you die before they reach the age of maturity. An appointed guardian will be responsible for the child, taking care of their every need and make decisions on their wellbeing, care and education. Where a guardian has not been specified in a Will, the court appoints a guardian. This is not ideal, as sometimes the court may get it wrong, and someone you may not have picked yourself may be appointed as guardian of your child. Guardianship gives you the peace of mind and security that should you die, your children will be looked after by someone you trust.
Distribution of your Assets
Your Will should detail how you wish to distribute your assets, and who you wish to leave them to. There is a legal requirement to leave enough for your dependants to live on, otherwise, you are free to bequeath your assets to whoever you wish. Dependants are usually your partner or spouse; your children and step-children or anyone you have been caring for as if they were your child; and anyone else you have been providing for financially, such as an elderly or vulnerable relative.
You can leave gifts of money as a capital sum or as a percentage of your estate, or you can arrange regular income for your beneficiary – our professional Will & Estate Planning Consultants will be on hand to guide you smoothly through the Will writing process, and will explain your options fully. You can also leave specific gifts, such as a piece of jewellery, or other property to whomever you wish.
Setting up a Trust
A Trust can be a useful way to offer increased protection for your family. You should consider adding a Trust to your Will if:
- You have a partner, but have children from a previous relationship
- You want to protect your estate from care fees or third party attacks
- You want to look after the interests of a vulnerable or disabled person after you die
A Trust is a legal arrangement which makes someone responsible for assets or property for the benefit of someone else. A Trust can be included as part of your Will or in a Trust deed and can be set up for use either during lifetime or after death.
One of the most common purposes of the Trust is for partners looking to split ownership on the family home so that each partner has a half-share. Rather than leaving this to each other, they leave their share to a Trust, which comes into being on the death of the first partner. This is a common set up for couples with children from a previous relationship.
Inheritance Tax & Your Will
It is not the case, as it once was, that inheritance tax problems are the reserve of the wealthy. A house, car or other assets could easily put your estate within the inheritance tax threshold. With careful financial planning, practically everyone with an inheritance tax liability should be able to reduce or even eliminate it. There are a number of different solutions available, and our Trust & Estate Planning Consultants can advise how best to arrange your affairs to mitigate inheritance tax.
The law surrounding inheritance tax can be highly complex and confusing. We are experienced in inheritance tax planning and will tailor a plan for you which will bring the maximum amount of your estate within the discounted inheritance tax rate. We can explain your options fully, giving you a clear understanding of the options open to you, and guiding you smoothly throughout the entire process. We believe tax planning and writing Wills should be a stress-free and straightforward experience, and our Trust & Estate Planning Consultants seek to ensure our clients are taken smoothly through the entire process of preparing a Will. We work swiftly and with precision, tailoring everything to you and your family’s requirements.