What Needs To Be Included In A Will

Most people don’t like to think about what happens if they die, however as an adult making a will is really important.

There are several ways you can make a will, with or without a solicitors input, but regardless of where and when you make your will, it is vital that you understand what needs to be included.

Your Assets

For most people property is their biggest asset.

Under the terms of current UK law, if a property is joint owned by your partner or spouse, your half of the equity passes to them, and they become sole owner.

The amount of your capital would depend on market values at the time.

However, if you do not intend, for whatever reason, to have your spouse or partner inherit your share, you should look into a tenancy in common as an alternative.

You can then leave your half to someone else.

This is more common with stepfamilies – although you may fall foul of inheritance tax if you leave your share to your children, etc.

It is worth asking for advice on this one and knowing the ways that inheritance tax can be avoided.

Your Children

If you have children under the age of 18, it is essential that your will stipulates arrangements for them.

You should make guardian provision if you are the only parent or in the event that both parents die.

If you are no longer married to or living with the second parent, but they still have parental responsibility the children are moved to their care.

If this is an issue, you should again take advice, but under the law domestic disputes are not considered good reasons for the other parent to not have custody.

Your Bequeaths

If you want to leave someone a gift you can specify this in your will.

Whether this is a sentimental item or cash, you should still clarify your intention.

Bequeaths can be made to anyone regardless of status; some people leave things to charities for example.

If you are the sole owner of a property and there is no legal inheritance right in place, you can leave that to whomever you wish, but it helps to say.

The residue is the amount left from your estate after everything has been dealt with, and all fees and taxes are paid.

The gain can be left to one or multiple recipients, but you should explain your intention.

Many people do not know the actual amount of residue as the calculations are complicated, so you would just state who should receive it.

Your Executors

A will needs to have executors.

This can be one person, but it makes sense to have more than one in case they do not survive you etc.

A friend or relative can do this, as can a solicitor.

For most people friends and relatives suffice, and the standard practice is that they seek advice from probate services if they are unsure how to carry out the requests you have made.

It is worth noting that an executor can also be a named beneficiary.

Stephen Coleclough

Stephen Coleclough is a leading international tax adviser who specialises in dealing with ultra high net worth individuals.

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