Wills

Things to consider when making your Will

25/01/2024

Drafting a Will involves thoughtful decisions that extend beyond mere documentation. From the critical selection of executors, guardianship decisions for minors, and articulating funeral wishes, to leaving specific legacies and determining residuary beneficiaries, each aspect carries profound implications for your loved ones’ future.

Executors

The first thing you need to consider when making your Will is who to appoint as your executor(s). Your executors are the people who deal with all aspects of the administration of your estate after you die. The role of the executor is one which carries substantial responsibility and the potential for personal liability and it is therefore important to give lots of thought to who you appoint.

You may wish to appoint your spouse or civil partner if you have one, or perhaps your children. You could appoint a different trusted friend or family member. There is also the option to appoint a professional such as a solicitor, and as a firm we offer a comprehensive estate administration service which may be of interest to you. You can also appoint replacement executors, to step in if your main executors are unable to act for any reason.

You may need to be mindful the age of your executors. If your chosen executors are of a similar age to you, it may be wise to appoint replacements in the event that your chosen executors were to have died before you, or were to have lost mental capacity and therefore be unable to act.

Funeral Wishes

Another thing to consider when making your Will is what your funeral wishes are. Do you want to be buried, or cremated? Or is there something else you would prefer?

Whilst funeral wishes included in your Will are not actually legally binding, they provide valuable guidance to your executors and/or family members as to your wishes.

Click here for further discussion on funeral wishes in Wills.

Guardians

If you have young children, you may need to consider who to appoint as guardians for them in the event that you were to die whilst your children are still minors. If you are married, and are both the biological parents of your children, then on the death of either of you, the survivor of you will legally be able to continue to look after your children. But what should happen if you were both to die? This requires careful consideration.

If you are unmarried and both the biological, if the mother dies before the father, it does not necessarily follow that the father is automatically entitled to continue the upbringing of the child, this depends on whether or not he has parental responsibility.

Whatever your situation, in assessing your choice of guardians, it is important to consider who is best placed to bring up your children and what is in your children’s best interests.

Legacies

You may wish to leave specific legacies in your Will, for instance items of jewellery or personal possessions which you want certain people to have following your death. You may with to include these in your Will or alternatively, we can include a clause in your Will which states that you leave all of your personal belongings to your executors to distribute in accordance with any letter of wishes you have left during your lifetime. This enables you to update your letter of wishes at any time without having to update your Will.

You may also want to include cash legacies, which tend to be smaller gifts to people such as grandchildren, nieces and nephews, friends or charities. It is also important to note that gifts to charities are exempt from Inheritance Tax and therefore could improve the Inheritance Tax position of your estate.

Beneficiaries

You also need to consider who your residuary beneficiaries should be. Your residuary beneficiaries inherit your residuary estate, which is the pot that is left at the end of the administration of your estate following the payment of any liabilities and funeral expenses and any cash legacies have been paid. You may also need to give thought to what should happen in the event that any of your residuary beneficiaries were to have died before you. In that case, who should inherit your residuary estate?

How Pinney Talfourd can help?

At Pinney Talfourd, we understand the significance of crafting a Will that reflects your unique wishes. Whether you are considering putting in place your first Will or updating an existing one, our team is here to guide you through every step of the process.

For more information or to book an appointment, please get in touch with our Private Client team on 01708 229 444.

This article was written by Jessica Newton, Associate in our Private Client Team. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of January 2024.

25/01/2024

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