Wills

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What is a Will?

A Will records your wishes to be observed by law after you pass away. A Will is the first vital step in making sure your estate goes to the right people. However, there are a lot of cheap, online Wills available, which could be considered invalid. Therefore, it is important to make sure you have a legal, valid Will in place. These days, many Wills are combined with Trusts to give you greater protection over your estate, i.e. Will-based Trusts and Advanced Wills. It is worth exploring these options, especially if you have a high value estate or a complicated family situation, e.g. remarriage or living with a partner. Don’t risk disinheritance issues. Will-based Trusts can provide you with Inheritance Tax (IHT) relief and other benefits.

One of the basic functions of a Will is to nominate people to undertake various duties and responsibilities on your behalf after you pass away. This is important if you have children, or you wish to leave anything of value to someone under the age of 18.

Once you have decided upon the important roles such as the Executor, Trustees and Gurdian, you can start to plan your loved one’s inheritance:

  • Specific Gifts – you can make specific gifts of property or cash, e.g. family jewellery. Only valuable items need listing in your Will. Items of lesser value or sentimental should be stated in a Letter of Wishes.
  • Residual Estate – this term refers to what is left of your possessions, once all debts and taxes have been settled, and specific gifts paid out. Your residual estate is either given away or sold (and then the proceeds shared out) in line with your wishes, e.g. shared equally between siblings. Give this some thought – if a tragedy should strike and you lose your close family, where would you like the residual estate to go?
  • Funeral Wishes – in the UK, the only legally enforceable wish you can make regarding your Funeral is whether to be cremated; everything else is a wish you would like to be observed. Deal with your funeral arrangements outside of your Will because most Wills are read after the funeral. Arranging a Pre-Paid Funeral Plan can address funeral arrangements and remove the burden of future costs. However, you can still record specific or donor wishes in your Will should you choose to.

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