When we think about making a Will, often the first stumbling block is knowing where to start. Here are 5 key things to help you start thinking about your Will from Celtic Law’s specialist Will advisor, Emily Littlehales.
Everyone knows the importance of making a Will, but in my experience, one of the most common reasons that people put it off is because they’re not sure where to start.
For this reason, many people seek professional advice about making their Will. This can be a fantastic option for making the process much easier and learning about the pros and cons of the decisions you make in your Will.
However, it’s worth remembering that your Will is all about you: it’s a record that details your wishes and decisions for how your estate is handled when you’re gone. My role as a solicitor in drafting your Will isn’t limited to just covering the legal side of the document, it’s also about making sure I reflect your choices and decisions accurately for all aspects of your estate.
Preparing to make your Will – things to think about before your consultation
I always encourage clients who book a consultation with me to do some preparation before our meeting, as I would recommend anyone to do the same before they meet any professional advisor or consultant about a Will. It helps by not only making the most of our time discussing your Will, but it also allows you to experience how your advisor or solicitor works, making it easier decide whether they are the right person to draft your Will.
The key questions I ask my clients to consider before their consultation are:
1. Who will be your Executors?
Your Executors are named individuals that you want to administer your estate for you. They’re sometimes also called ‘Personal Representatives’ or ‘Trustees’. You can choose to appoint one Executor or up to four individuals. Your choice of Executor is really important, as they will be responsible and personally liable for handling your estate appropriately. Now is a good time to learn more about choosing the right executor.
2. Do you have any specific funeral wishes?
Detailing funeral arrangements in your Will is often overlooked, but I think it is a really important point and a good opportunity to make your wishes clear. Even if you just include a basic statement about your wishes – such as whether you want a burial or a cremation – it can help reassure your family at the time that they are making the right choices for you. However, if you have other funeral wishes that you want to make known – such as music choices, specific readings or the type of service you want – you can also detail these in your Will.
3. How do you want your estate to be split up between beneficiaries?
You may wish for your estate to be split into equal shares for your beneficiaries, but if not, it’s useful to think about how you wish for your estate to be divided. At this stage, you may only have a rough idea of how you want your estate split up and between whom, but that’s okay. Your advisor is there to help you iron out the details based on your ideas.
4. Do you want to make specific gifts to certain people, charities or organisations?
Many people choose to leave a personal item or a fixed sum of money – called a ‘legacy’ – to individuals, charities or other organisations. Making sure the value of your legacy is calculated correctly is key, bearing in mind how much estate you will have available afterwards and what else you wish to leave for your beneficiaries after your legacy has been made.
5. Where will you store your Will?
Although it may seem like a basic question, it’s probably the most important – and most frequently overlooked – aspect of making a Will. After all, your Will is of no use to anyone if no one knows where it is! Make sure your Executors are aware of the location of your Will. You can also ask your solicitor or advisor if they can keep your Will safe for you; however, I do not store Wills at Celtic Law. Instead, I recommend clients consider using the Probate Registry, which incurs a one-off storage fee of £20 per Will. The Probate Registry is a safe place, and it isn’t likely to move, merge, change its name or cease trading – which may happen to your solicitors’ firm.
Other things to think about when making a Will
Before your consultation, it’s always helpful for you to prepare a list of any people – family members, friends or others – that you wish to benefit from your Will – in other words, your beneficiaries. This includes their full names, dates of birth and addresses. In my experience, this also also acts as a great opportunity for me to get to know you and your family, and it will make drafting your Will quicker.
You should also prepare a list of your assets. By assets, I mean anything that you own: including property, cash, investments, and personal possessions – along with an approximate value if you know it. For my clients, I use this information to advise you on care fee planning opportunities and any inheritance tax liabilities so that we can make sure all the options have been explored fully.
Ready to start making your Will?
Whichever method you choose to start making your Will, the best place to start will always be collecting the information you need to include in the document. It will make gathering, refining and drafting your ideas and wishes so much easier in the long run.
If you’re interested in seeking a professional Will writing service to make drafting your Will even easier, see Celtic Law’s Will & Trusts service, or contact me to arrange your no-obligation consultation.