Amaka Jackson, Solicitor, offers a few tips on what to consider when making your Will.
1) Your Assets
Your property, savings, investments and other assets you own and their value has an effect on how to structure your Will as they invariably have some financial or tax implications and so planning may be required as part of the will-making process.
2) Who do you want to leave your estate to?
Think about who you want to benefit by your will? For many people, this will seem easy – their spouse or partner first, and then their children – but there will often be more to think about, such as:
Could their spouse remarry and disinherit their children?
Can they cut out estranged children, and what rights do they have?
Who should benefit if spouse and children die together in an accident?
What happens if there are children from previous relationships?
3) Executors, trustees and guardians
Who do you choose to carry out your wishes i.e. Executors? You can appoint up to 4 executors and trustees.
Whilst family members and trusted friends are always a good choice, you may also want to consider an impartial or professional executor to help with the administration process.
Executors will also usually act as trustees.
If you have young children, it is prudent to think about who you trust to take over the management of your children’s affairs whilst they are still young and deal with their upbringing.
To prevent conflict in the future, parents should discuss and be in agreement about their choice of guardians for minor children in both of their wills.
4) Division of your estate
How do you want your estate to be divided?
You should consider how much of your estate you want to leave to all beneficiaries. Some loved ones may be more deserving than others due to personal circumstances such as disability, illness or financial hardship etc.
You may also want to consider leaving some of your estate to charities for either charitable reasons or to achieve a reduced rate of Inheritance Tax levied against your estate.
5) Claims against your estate
Considering to whom and how your estate is divided is key and you should also consider whether there is anyone who might make a claim against your estate after your death. Certain people, including spouses and civil partners, former spouses and civil partners who have not remarried, co-habitees, children and those treated as children of the family, and others who have been maintained by you, may be able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.
6) Inheritance tax (IHT)
There may be IHT mitigation options your estate can benefit from such as spousal exemption, charity, agricultural and business property relief.
Effective April 2017, an additional tax reducing option becomes available to people who wish to gift their property to certain family members.
7) Your business
As a business owner, you are usually considered the lifeline of your business and it would therefore seem that when you die, the business dies with you.
There are however ways to ensure the continuation of your business beyond your death. It is therefore important to consider succession to the family business particularly if it is the main stream of income for your family and loves ones.
You may find making a Will a morbid and daunting task but it really does not have to be so.
Having your will professionally drawn up by a specialist lawyer is safest way to ensure these consideration and others pertinent to your personal circumstances and estate are taken into account.
At Jackson Longe Solicitors, we can guide you through the difficult decisions you may have to make when drawing up your Will. We are committed to making the process as straight forward and seamless as possible.