Making A Checklist Does Not Need To Be Complicated
On the surface, making a will can seem complicated. Of course, a lot depends on what you have to leave once you pass away.
To help gather all the right information together so you can make your Will, here’s our simple checklist.
List Your Assets and Their Value
The first thing to do is list everything that you own and it’s rough value. This could include:
- The value of your home.
- Other property or land that you may own.
- Your car, motorbike or any other vehicle.
- All the content in your home that you own including furniture and fittings.
- Items that you may have such as jewellery, artwork or antiques which you may want to pass on to individual friends or family.
- Details of your bank accounts and savings.
- Any stocks and shares or other investments that you may have.
- Insurances and pension details.
Not all assets have value in the monetary sense. You may have online social media accounts that you want to pass on to a loved one. There could be photographs (both digital and hardcopy) and other things of sentimental value.
List Your Debts
Once you pass away, unfortunately, your debts don’t die with you and these will need to be settled from your estate before any assets are shared among your loved ones according to the wishes of your Will.
It’s important to know where you stand here and list things like outstanding mortgages, loans, credit agreements and the like which will impact how much of your estate goes to your nearest and dearest. This is not going to be included in your Will but will give those you leave behind a good idea of what needs to be settled, so it’s important to keep good records and have them in one place.
Name Your Beneficiaries
As a minimum you should include the full name and address of all of your Beneficiaries. . If, you are designating specific assets or gifts to specific people you will need their full name and address along with an exact description of what you are giving them.
Who Gets What?
Next, you need to decide who you are going to leave your estate to. You may have major assets such as your home or other property that you want to leave to your spouse, children or brothers and sisters. You may also have specific items such as jewellery, favourite artwork or your car that you want to leave to someone.
You may also like to leave money to a favourite charity or an organisation that you support such as a local community project, sports club, college or university.
Choosing Guardians for Children and Pets
If you have children under the age of 18, you will also want to nominate a guardian or guardians for them and arrange something like a trust to protect assets until they are of a certain age. You can also nominate someone to take care of your beloved pet.
It’s important to think about additional instructions you might want to include in your Will. This could include how you want your remains disposed of after you die, for example, having your ashes scattered in a place that is important to you.
Picking Your Executors
The executor is the person who is tasked with carrying out the wishes in your will and settling your estate. Many people nominate two executors to make it easier for the family at what can be a difficult time.
Executors can be members of the family, close friends or a professional. It’s important to ask the person you are nominating before you include them in your Will. You will need their full name and address.
To be considered valid, the will must be formally witnessed by two independent people. This could be friends, neighbours or colleagues at work. Wills can also be witnessed by professionals such as your GP.
Storing Your Will
Finally, your will needs to be safely stored. The safest way to do this is to store it with your lawyer or as specialist storage facility like the National Will Safe. Some people choose to keep a copy of their Will at home, though this can be a little riskier. Whatever you choose, you must let your executor know where to find it.
You may need to protect your assets in case your partner gets re-married or needs care later in their life. You may also have vulnerable beneficiaries that may require additional protection and who need assistanc in managing their inheritance. You may be unmarried and need to plan to mitigate inheritance tax liabilities. All of these situations will require trust planning. You will need to give some thought as to how you would like these trusts to be manged, i.e. who will act as Trustees? At what age would you like your children to inherit?
Once you have gathered all of this information you should book a free consultation to discuss your options. Estate Planning is so much more than just writing down who gets what in a Will. If you own property or have minor children, you will almost certainly need advice on inheritance tax planning and / or appointing Guardians. A badly drafted Will can actually cost your estate thousands of pounds so it is always best to leave this bit to a professional.
MGF Wills & Estate Planning offers a free consultation, so call or message today to get advice tailored to your circumstances.
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