Your Will – the most important document of all!

Your will is the ‘final’ document that confirms you wishes about who will receive what you have worked hard to accumulate; from money and property down to special or personal items, such as jewellery, following your death.

A carefully prepared will ensures family arguments and disagreement can be minimised and importantly can help eliminate claims against your estate. Many will writers may be able to produce a will but a solicitor will keep detailed records of the meetings creating the will and importantly the final meeting where it is signed. A challenge to a will often centres around a lack of capacity; i.e. the individual did not have capacity to decide what they have set out in their will. Against significant claims or challenges to the will or an individual’s intentions, this more detailed approach may prove to be worth a significant amount. Unfortunately, challenges are becoming only more common.

If you are in a blended family it is essential you obtain experienced advice, allowing for bespoke clauses and ensuring that your estate goes to those beneficiaries of your choice, who are important to you. Wills should be reviewed during your lifetime; particularly when your situation changes. A will may be something that you consider can wait for the future; but unfortunately as none of us know what is around the corner, everyone over the age of 18 should consider preparing a will, setting out their wishes. We can sit down with you and discuss your needs, whether a simple will or a more complicated arrangement will best meet your circumstances.

People may think of a will as something very simple, but some of the elements to think about will include:

Executors/Trustees: picking someone you know can be good with being organised; their role will be to arrange to value and sell assets, or arrange their transfer, ensuring that the relevant beneficiaries receive the intended legacies from the estate.

Funeral Instructions: although this is not binding on your executor, of course it sets out your personal wishes.

Personal Belongings (known as Chattels): thinking about what you have and what you might have in the future and who you would like your possessions to go to.

Appointment of Guardians: of course, important where you have children under the age of 18.

Assets and Liabilities: making a list and understanding the overall values, to determine whether the estate will be subject to payment of inheritance tax (IHT).

Specific Gifts or Legacies: separately from any general distribution from the estate, any bequest passing on specific items, should ensure there will be enough allowing for any other liabilities and distributions.