What do I need to make a will? Making a will can be difficult, especially if you’re not prepared, knowing what you need to make a will can help considerably. Thinking about how you can help the ones you care for most after you have gone can be quite a positive and rewarding exercise and, most importantly, it can ensure that your wishes are carried out exactly as you wish rather than leaving the decision with others.
So before you begin deciding who will receive what and how you would like things to be distributed, what are the things that you need to do or consider before you get started?
We have listed out some of the main elements to give you the best starting point for your will. We always recommend that you speak to a professional to assist you when writing a will, legally qualified will writing solicitors can ensure that all eventualities are covered, you can benefit from all their experience, and ensure your final will and testament is valid.
It may sound obvious but make sure that you have all of your details to hand and they are accurate. Aside from your own details, also details of spouses, children and anyone else who is being included within your Will along with their dates of birth are all required.
Your estate covers the assets that you own and can include property, stocks and shares, vehicles, jewellery, savings and anything else of value. This may also cover anything in your own name and jointly owned items too. You may also want to consider any debts and liabilities that you have too. Understanding the value of your estate is crucial to preparing an accurate Will so if you have a basic idea of the value of your estate, this will aid and assist you when creating your Will.
You may wish to leave notes and information regarding your funeral wishes so that your Executors are aware of your preferred choice within your Will. This can include simply confirming whether you wish to be cremated or buried to detailing hymns, readings, songs and any other important aspect of a funeral. Please be aware that any funeral wishes within your Will are not legally binding but are simply notes to assist your Executors
The executors will carry out your wishes, collecting in all of the estate value, such as bank accounts, property etc. They will also handle paying off any debts and liabilities and are legally responsible for distributing the estate to the beneficiaries. The responsibility of the executor should be allocated to someone who you really trust. There can be more than one and a beneficiary can be an executor too. It may be worth considering an alternative in case the executor can’t act for whatever reason.
You may want to put certain assets into a trust, this can protect the assets until a certain time or event, such as a specific age of a child or university graduation. If you decide to create a trust then you will also need to name the trustees, who will oversee the trust on behalf of the beneficiaries. You can appoint the same trustees as executors within your Will.
You may wish to leave a specific item to a particular person or a set sum of money to a family member, friend or charity. You can choose to list particular legacies within your Will or you can choose not to leave any specific legacies at all if you wish.
This is who will receive the bulk of your estate when you die after any and all legacies and debts have been paid. It could go to just one person such as your spouse or it could pass to your child or children but you may need to consider if they die before you do. In which case you will need to identify further beneficiaries. Ideally, your Will would have multiple layers of beneficiaries to ensure that should your primary beneficiary predecease you, your wishes regarding who will inherit your estate are still carried out. Whatever you decide, you will need to give full names and details of your beneficiaries.
Guardians For Children
If you have children under the age of 18 then you will need to name a legal guardian for the children. It is essential that you discuss and agree this with the person you intend to name as a guardian prior to completing this element.
Pets are classified as part of your estate so specifying what you would like to happen to those pets is an important element of your will. Just like some of the other areas that we have highlighted, it is important to ensure that your wishes for your pets are detailed, and agreed with anyone involved.
There can be many elements to a will that are unique to the person making a will, and if you have questions or there are elements we haven’t highlighted our expert team are just a call away. To get in touch with your local office you’ll find your local solicitor here