Here are a few things to consider before making a will;
If you have not made a Will, follow our simple guide that gives you information and tips about getting started.
Executors are responsible for exercising your estate in accordance with your instructions after you have died. It is a responsible and demanding role, and involves handling large sums of money. And don’t forget to check that the people you choose are happy to take on the role.
If you are married, you will probably want your spouse to be your executor, but don’t appoint them as your sole executor. If you both died together in a plane crash or a car accident, neither of you would have an executor living. Always appoint a default or substitute executor as a fall-back position in case your spouse is unwilling or unable to act.
If you are the last living parent and you die leaving children under age 18, a guardian will be appointed by the court if you have not specified who this should be in your Will. If you are unmarried but you and your partner have children, you might not even get guardianship of your children. If an unmarried man dies, his female partner automatically gets guardianship of their children, but if an unmarried woman dies, her male partner does not. You should appoint each other as guardians in your wills to overcome this problem.
This might sound obvious, but if you are setting up a trust in your Will or if your beneficiaries could be aged under 18 when you die, you will need to appoint trustees.
Trustees will be responsible for managing and investing money, or looking after property until it passes to the beneficiaries, so make sure they are people with a good grasp of financial matters and that they are still young enough so they don’t die before you do.
If you want to preserve family heirlooms or items of special sentimental value, (for example, a grandfather clock, or a wedding or engagement ring), you should leave these items as a specific legacy to a named beneficiary.
The ‘residue’ is what is left over in your estate after you have made any specific legacies. You must specify who this goes to, as if you fail to do so, you will create a partial intestacy in your will. In other words, the small gifts and legacies would pass according to the Will, but the residue would be subject to the laws of intestacy.
It’s all very well having your Will drafted, but if you don’t sign it in front of two independent witnesses, it will not be valid. A witness cannot be anyone mentioned in the Will or anyone married to anyone mentioned in the Will.
Once your will has been correctly signed and witnessed, have it stored in a proper safe storage facility. This will protect it from fire, flood, damage, or loss. Your executors will be provided with a certificate showing them where your Will is stored and how to get hold of it if you die. Your Will is no good to anyone if it cannot be found after your death.