Only one in every four people in the UK have made a Will. If you die without a Will, your property may not go to those whom you had hoped would benefit after your death. When considering your Will we give you advice and guidance every step of the way, from how to decide about who should be your executors through to dealing with any possible Inheritance Tax liabilities. Here are some things to consider before making your Will:
Your Executors will deal with your estate after your death and carry out your wishes in accordance with the Will. Executors can be relatives, friends or even professionals such as solicitors. Check with them whether they are prepared to take on this role, as it can involve considerable responsibility. Consider appointing more than one executor in case one dies before you or is unable to be your executor for some other reason. Your Executor should be somebody that you trust absolutely and he / she should be told where the original Will is being kept.
Your estate is everything you own, your property, money, furniture etc. You may own property jointly. There are two ways to own property jointly; either as tenants in common or as joint tenants. If you own as joint tenants, then on your death the whole of your interest in that property will automatically pass to the other joint owner(s) if they have outlived you. You cannot by Will give your share in a property which is owned as joint tenants to someone else. This is because on your death your share in the property will have already passed to the other owner(s). This is a very important point which arises repeatedly in the context of marriage breakdown. On the other hand, if you own the property as tenants in common, then you will be able to pass on your share of the property under your Will. If you have a joint bank account then any money in it will automatically pass to the other person.
You should think about who you would like to benefit from your Will. Consider any specific items that you would like to pass on to somebody, for example wedding rings, family heirlooms and cash gifts. You will need to consider what should happen if a beneficiary dies before you, and to whom it should go to in these circumstances. If several people are to benefit, for example your children, then how should it be split between them. If one child should die before you, should that share go to their children (if any) or should it be split between the others who have survived.