DON'T WORRY - The consultant will go through everything with you at the appointment. However, for you to make the most of his visit, we would advise that before the appointment you identify the people that are going to be effected by your Will, what assets you have and how you wish them to be distributed. Use the following points as a guide.
Preparing For Your Will
Before we take your instructions to prepare your Will there are a number of important points you must consider.
~Initially, you should consider your immediate and long term priorities and whether you wish to include all, or many, of these at this stage. That decision will probably be dictated by how much you wish, or can afford, to invest in protecting your loved ones.
For a couple, a Will offering maximum protection can cost around £500.00, whereas, a simple, and basic, Will is £100.00.
Your priorities will include; who you wish to inherit your assets, and when; your desire to avoid tax, or other charges; long term protection for your family; and, of course, the costs. For further details refer to Additional Information
~ The next consideration is who you would want to handle your affairs after your death: your Executors, Trustees and Guardians.
Your Executors, normally up to a maximum of four people, are responsible for: obtaining the Grant of Probate, which is the formal confirmation that the estate can be administered by your appointed Executors; ensuring your burial, or cremation, is arranged; paying any debts and carrying out your instructions from your Will. We send a leaflet explaining the role, to all Executors, on completion of your Will.
If you have children under the age of 18 you need to nominate a Guardian for your children. If you do not do this, the Courts will decide for you! It is advisable for the Guardian to also be an Executor, but not the sole Executor.
The Guardian will take on your Parental Responsibility should you die before your children reach the age of 18. The person you appoint must be able, and willing, to accept that responsibility for what could be many years. Your children do not have to live with the Guardian, although this is normally the case, but they must be capable of making all the decisions you would normally make. You can have more than one Guardian and it is advisable to have a reserve Guardian in case your first choice cannot act for any reason. There are strict rules governing Parental Responsibility, particularly for single parents, on which we can advise. Our section on Protecting Your Children, explains more.
If your Will is to create Trusts on your death you will also need to appoint Trustees to manage the Trusts. It is normal for the Executors to also be the Trustees, although you may wish to keep these roles separate.
Executors and Trustees can be professional bodies such as Solicitors, or Banks. However, be aware they will charge for their services, usually a percentage of your estate. This can be anywhere between 2.5% and 6% depending upon circumstances. Therefore, an estate valued at £200,000 could incur a charge between £5,000 and £12,000!!
Therefore, it is very important to give serious thought to who you appoint. They must be people you can trust, will work together and are capable of fulfilling the role. The tasks are mainly straightforward and there is plenty of free advice available. The Probate Registry is very helpful.
It is vital to discuss your wishes with the people you choose, to be sure they understand what you require of them, and they are willing to support you. The most common situation is for all of this to be kept in the family.
~ It is important to list down all of your assets and liabilities to identify what is involved. Most people are surprised when they add it all up! You then need to decide who is to get what, and when. You should differentiate between money and other gifts. Money includes shares, bank accounts, life policies etc. Gifts would include jewellery and family heirlooms. It is often best to deal with gifts, other than money, by way of a separate letter, but make mention of the letter in your Will. This gives you the freedom to change your mind, or dispose of any item, without needing to change your Will. The items can be gifted on the first death, of a couple, or second death, if that is preferred.
~ You should also consider what you would like to happen if all the people you have listed should die before you. You can nominate reserve beneficiaries who will only benefit if all of your first choices die before you. Without this your Will could be invalid.
~ You can also include in your Will your wishes with regard to burial, cremation or organ donation. This can only be a wish as the Will may not be seen until after the event, but it does focus your mind on what you would like and convey your thoughts to your close relatives.
The above facts apply to all Wills. There may be other considerations for you to make with regard to such things as Inheritance Tax, avoiding long-term care costs, protecting your family against remarriage of the survivor or protecting your assets while you are alive, if you cannot do so yourself. For further details refer to Additional Information.
We can advise on all of these and how the above facts affect your individual circumstances. So take the next important step and contact us immediately in order that we may take you through the process to take best advantage from this very important document.