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Making a Will: Explained

October 28, 2014  |   Posted by :   |   Blog

wills and probate solicitor Thames Valley

Time to make a will or update an existing one? There are three main areas to consider when putting together a will: who you would like to inherit your assets, the specifics of those assets, and any special instructions relating to individual bequests or the details of your funeral. Your solicitor will help you put together all the information you need to draw up your will. Use this guide to make sure you have everything you need before you visit your solicitor:

Beneficiaries, Heirs and Executors

Your solicitor will need to know the names of the people you would like to bequeath your assets to. This list will usually include family members and friends, but you may also leave money and property to organisations or charities of your choice. You will also be required to name at least one executor to handle your affairs – in some cases this can be your solicitor. You will need to provide details of each of the following:

  • Beneficiaries and heirs: individuals or organisations who will receive your assets and individual items from your will. If you have children under the age of eighteen you should also name the people you would like to act as guardians.
  • Intended beneficiaries and successor/contingent beneficiaries: individuals or organisations chosen as your first and subsequent choices to receive your assets.
  • Residual beneficiaries: individuals and organisations who will receive any assets not specifically attributed to anyone in your will.
  • Executors: the person or persons who will ensure that your wishes are carried out.
  • Trustees: if you plan on leaving assets to a minor you may need  two trustees who will manage your property until your beneficiary is at least eighteen-years-old.

Assets and Liabilities

You will need to provide your solicitor with the details of your assets and any outstanding debts in your name. When assets are jointly owned – such as property or insurance policies – they can be slightly more complicated to distribute, but your solicitor will be able to help you include these in your will. Other assets such as cars, furniture or small items like jewellery can also be attributed to friends and family in your will, along with cash sums and gifts. When giving away an asset that is subject to a loan, mortgage or debt, you will need to decide whether you plan on paying off the debt with a portion of your estate or passing on the property as it stands.

When making your will, you will need to provide details of:

  • The value of your assets, including: property, home contents, vehicles, savings, pensions and investments
  • The details of individual items, sums of money or gifts you would like to leave to specific beneficiaries
  • The value of any liabilities, including: debts, loans, mortgages and credit cards

Special Instructions

Special instructions in your will provide details of any restrictions or contingencies relating to the distribution of your assets.  Many people also leave instructions and wishes for funeral arrangements but in most cases your will won’t be consulted until after such services are completed so it’s always best to tell relatives or friends this information, or leave a letter somewhere where it can be found easily.

  • You can leave other instructions such as: Special instructions to your executor, for example whether you wish them to publish an obituary
  • Existing arrangements with beneficiaries regarding the transfer of your property
  • Restrictions on the release of your assets to minors or other beneficiaries

Drawing up your will is an important process and can be completed quickly and easily with the assistance of an experienced solicitor. Get in touch with our Thames Valley wills and probate team to keep your will updated and valid.

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