Wednesday, October 3, 2012

7 Things to Consider When Making a Will

Nobody likes to think about dying. But death, like taxation, is unavoidable. If you care about what will happen to your assets when you die, and you wish to make proper provision for your loved ones, then you should ensure that you have a valid and up to date will.

Before making a will, however, you will need to consider the following:

1. Your property - make a list of everything you own and how much it is worth. Include your home and any buy-to-let or holiday property you may have, money in bank or building society accounts, shares, pensions, insurance policies, any personal valuables and any business interests you own.

2. Providing for your loved ones - who you would like to bequeath your property to? Make sure that you make proper provision for your spouse or partner, children, extended or previous family members and friends. Do you want to leave some money to a particular charity? Do you want to put any conditions on any of your legacies? A common condition is that children must reach a particular age, say 21, before being entitled to the money that you leave them.

3. Guardians - do you have any minor children? If so, who would you want to care for them if you were to die before they reach the age of 18?

4. Your business interests - what would you like to happen to any business interests you may own after you die?

5. Any other wishes? Are there particular arrangements you wish for your funeral? In particular, would you prefer to be buried or cremated - or do you have some other preference? How do you feel about organ donation?

6. Appointing Executors - executors are people you appoint to administer your estate i.e. carry out your wishes under the will when you die. This could be a family member or close friend, or an experienced professional such as a solicitor. A common and often sensible combination is to appoint both a family member and a solicitor. Make sure that you appoint someone who understands financial issues and don't forget to make sure that they are prepared to take on the role of executorships should you die. This is vital, as if you have not checked with them first, they could refuse to act as an executor, thus leaving the estate without someone you trust to take care of it. Bear in mind that there can be quite long term responsibilities under the will - especially if your will involves the creation of a trust, for example with regard to your children.

7. Finally don't forget to make sure you are aware of the tax implications, particularly with regard to inheritance tax, of your will.

It is good advice to review your will at least every 5 years and especially on any major life changes such as marriage, divorce, or having a child. Although nowadays it is possible to draw up your own will, this is very risky - the number of badly drafted wills being contested is on the increase - at vast financial and emotional cost to the estate of the deceased. You should think about getting some professional advice from an experienced wills and probate solicitor - they should be able to draw up a simple will for you for a reasonable fixed cost.

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