Making a Will Checklist
Making a Will is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your loved ones and family. If you are thinking about making a Will but aren’t sure what to include, book an initial call with our expert Wills team. We will go over what your priorities are and advise on the best way to achieve your wishes in your Will. Call 01273 604 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Choose your Executor
An Executor is a person you name in your Will to deal with your affairs and distribute your assets.
Some of the tasks an Executor will deal with include arranging valuation of assets, submitting the inheritance tax return and estate income tax return to HMRC, arranging the sale or auction of assets such as property, arranging payment of debts, bills, and legacies, and distributing assets in accordance with the wishes you set out in your Will. Executors are held personally responsible for any mistakes they make and can be fined by HMRC if they provide incomplete or incorrect information.
It is a very important job, and not to be taken lightly. Your Executor should be someone you trust and who is likely to survive you. You can name more than one person as your Executor. If you prefer, you can name your Solicitor’s Firm as Executors. Our probate team work closely with Executors who employ us to deal with some or all of the work. Find out more about how we help Executors here.
Note – an Executor is not the same as an Attorney, who you can appoint to deal with your affairs if you lose capacity while you are alive.
Name your beneficiaries
Beneficiaries are the people who inherit – i.e., benefit – from your Estate. You can choose as many beneficiaries as you like, and they can be anyone, as long as you are able to provide their name and address. You can choose to include charities as beneficiaries.
Legacies to your spouse and charities are exempt from Inheritance Tax. Other people, such as your children, are liable to Inheritance Tax, so it is a good idea to speak to our Wills team for advice. We can advise you on how best to make a gift to children, grandchildren, friends, and family.
List your assets
It is a good idea to sit down and make an list of your main assets and debts such as money, property, stocks, shares, premium bonds, pensions, personal belongings, and future inheritances. If you own property, you might want to consider how you own it, as this will affect how it will be inherited. If you have assets abroad, you should speak to our Wills team about the laws in that country and how those assets will be dealt with. You may need bespoke advice on how to tailor your Will to include those assets.
When you speak to our Wills team, we will provide you with a Will Questionnaire that will help you identify everything that should be considered as part of writing your Will. We will then talk through the Questionnaire with you, making sure that we have your instructions set out clearly.
Appoint guardians for your children
If you have children who are under the age of 18 you should think about who you would like to take care of them if you died. Appointing a legal guardian provides peace of mind that your children will be cared for by someone that you have selected.
Consider financial provision for your children
Alongside the need to make sure that your children are cared for by someone you have chosen, you also need to ensure that they are financially provided for. You should speak to your solicitor about how the money should be released, how often and how much those instalments will be, and who will take care of the money until your child turns 18. You may want a child to be older than 18 before inheriting. Our expert Wills team can provide advice on inheritance, Trusts, and priorities for children to ensure that your Will reflects your wishes.
What happens if your spouse re-marries after you die?
If you are married and have children under the age of 18, you might want to think about what will happen to your children’s inheritance if your spouse remarries after your death. You may not want their new spouse or their new spouse’s children to inherit your estate over your own children. To avoid situations like this, it is best to speak with our Wills team about your options and the different choices you can make in your Will to protect your children and spouse.
Funeral and burial plans
You might have specific wishes for your funeral or burial, such as:
- Religious ceremony
- Donating your body to science
- Cremation or burial
- Where you would like your ashes scattered
- Funeral arrangements.
You can outline your wishes in your Will, but it is also a good idea to let your loved ones know about such plans to make sure that they are aware of them before the funeral. In some cases we help our clients to write a letter of wishes to go along with their Will. Speak to our team about this.
What if you want to treat your children or family members differently in your Will?
There are lots of reasons why you may want to divide your estate differently between your children or family members. Some examples include:
- If one child has already received a large financial sum in your lifetime
- One child has specific needs such as a disability and is financially dependent upon you
If you do want to differentiate between children or other close family members, it is important to be aware that some people may be able to make a claim against your estate. If you are worried someone might claim against your estate, you need legal advice about how to write your Will to ensure that there is a lesser chance of a successful claim. Burt Brill & Cardens have expert legal departments on both writing Wills and on contesting Wills.
A note on Wills and marriage
When you get married, any existing Will is automatically revoked. Our clients are often surprised to discover this, especially those who have remarried and want children from their previous marriage to inherit from their estate. If you have married and not updated your Will, speak to our Wills team as soon as possible.
If you are engaged ort planning on getting married soon, you can make your Will in anticipation of getting married. Making your Will in contemplation of marriage ensures that your Will won’t be revoked upon your marriage and will remain valid after your nuptials, while keeping your fiancé protected before the big day. There are certain time limits and rules around this – speak to us to find out more.
Writing your Will with Burt Brill & Cardens
“I engaged BB&C for preparation and completion of a cross-border Last Will and Testament, which had the potential (in my mind!) to be a painful and complicated process. However, it could not have been made simpler. Quick and concise communication, plenty of useful advice and a pleasure to deal with. I would not hesitate to recommend. Thank you!” – Our client Mr G via Google Reviews.
The rules around estates, inheritance, tax, and probate are highly complex. Our job as expert Wills, Probate, and Trust Solicitors is to listen to your wishes and then use our legal expertise to ensure that your Will reflects them. At your first meeting with us, we will provide you with our tailored Wills Questionnaire, and walk through this with you, asking you the right questions to avoid any major pitfalls. We will then draft your Will, and if you are happy with it, you can sign it that day and store it safely in our strongroom.
I needed expert advice on a complicated probate matter involving a cross-border estate...David's experience in dealing with such cases gave me confidence that I would be in good hands, and I wasn't disappointed. The whole process proceeded much more smoothly than I had dared hope, and the final bill was exactly in line with the estimate that I was originally given.