While we make it very easy for our clients to draft their online Wills, making a Will is not a straightforward process. Many important factors need to be considered before you start drafting your own Will.
Important Factors You Need To Consider Before Drafting Your Online Will
It is important to give a lot of thought before you start drafting your own Will, as it will ensure that your final wishes are carried down to a T and that there will be no grounds for disputing the Will in the future.
Who Will You Appoint As The Executor?
An executor is a person you select to handle the responsibility of executing your Will exactly as per your wishes.
An executor will be tasked with a number of responsibilities such as:
- Locating all the relevant financial documents owned by you.
- Sending out a photocopy of your death certificate to all the financial organisations in which you hold money.
- Confirming the date of death value of all the assets owned by you.
- Informing banks to freeze all bank accounts in your name so that nobody can withdraw any money out of those accounts without the requisite legal permission.
- Starting a bank account for your estate.
- Paying off any outstanding debts owed by you.
- Compiling a comprehensive list of all assets, money, property and debts in the estate.
- Calculating the right inheritance tax amount owed by the estate and then paying them off.
- Compiling all the requisite documents that are required to be submitted at the HM revenue and customs and probate registry.
- Collecting money belonging to the estate in insurance companies, banks, building societies and pension funds after the grant of probate or letters of administration.
- Distributing all the assets in the estate exactly as specified in the Will or as per the rules of intestacy.
The responsibilities entrusted to an executor are many and they can often be complicated. That is why, it is important to ensure that you choose the right candidate for the job. For example, choosing someone who is unaccustomed to handling financial affairs as your executor, can lead to complications during probate.
Keep in mind that your executor is held personally liable if they fail to execute any of the above mentioned responsibilities whether intentionally or unintentionally.
It is wise to talk to the person you are choosing as your executor, and check if they are prepared to take on the responsibility, before nominating that person in your Will.
Ideally, it is important to keep in mind the following when selecting an executor:
- It is better to nominate two executors rather than just one in your Will. This means that there is a ‘back up’ if your executor dies before you or if they become incapacitated and are therefore deemed unfit to execute your Will. It is possible to name up to four executors in your Will.
- Ensure that the person you choose to be your executor is able and willing to handle administrative, legal and financial tasks involved in dealing with your estate.
- It is advisable to choose an executor who is younger than you. This means that there is greater likelihood of your executor outliving you and executing your Will as per your wishes.
- If you are in a civil partnership or if you are married, it is better to select your civil partner or spouse as your executor.
- If you have children above the age of 18 then it is possible to name them as an executor to your Will.
- If one or more of your children is/are below the age of 18, it is advisable to choose a solicitor or some other professional as an executor to your Will.
Choosing the right candidate as your executor is important to prevent a scenario in which a relative or beneficiary might look to dispute the validity of your Will because of improper estate administration.
If you feel that the executor you have chosen can be overwhelmed by the size and nature of responsibilities lying ahead, it is advisable to appoint a professional as the executor of your Will.
How Will You Distribute Your Assets?
Your assets include everything you known such as:
- Land ;
- Stocks, shares along with other investments;
- Antiques; and
- Other possessions.
While it is possible to distribute your assets exactly as you desire, if certain eligible people are not provided for in your Will, then by the Inheritance Act of 1975, it is possible that your Will can be disputed in a court of law.
Here are some factors you need to consider if you want to avoid such a scenario:
Who Are Your Dependants?
- Your partner – which could be your civil partner or spouse or any former spouse/civil partner who has not yet remarried.
- Your children – which could be your own children or adopted children, step children or any child you have been caring/providing for as if your own.
- Others- you will also have to ensure that you make provisions for people you have been providing for financially. For example, an elderly relative.
What Do You Want To Leave Your Beneficiaries?
If you want to award money to your beneficiaries here are some ways you can do it:
There are a number of ways you can leave behind capital (lump sum) for your beneficiaries such as,
- By naming your chosen beneficiary as the intended beneficiary of your life insurance policy.
- By specifying in your Will that you intend a certain beneficiary to receive the money in your saving accounts.
- By specifiying in your Will that you intend to leave the beneficiary a portion of your estate.
If you don’t want to leave behind a lump sum for your beneficiaries, there also multiple ways through which you can arrange for a more regular source of income (or life interest), such as:
- By arranging that the income from your pension is received by your intended beneficiary.
- By nominating the beneficiary as the recipient of an investment that pays out regular profits. For example, investment funds, bonds etc.
- By nominating the beneficiary as the recipient from a trust that pays them a regular income
It is possible to leave your beneficiaries with both regular income and a lump sum amount.