1. Choose your will writer carefully
There are many options available for writing your Will including DIY kits and online ‘quick & easy’ Wills but a badly drafted Will could mean the difference between your loved ones getting what you leave for them and not. Remember DIY is for the home!
2. Think carefully who you choose as your Executors
Executors are nominated by you to carry out your wishes as laid out in your will. Whoever you choose as executors for your estate will be responsible for ensuring that your instructions are handled correctly, you need to be able to trust them and they need to be happy with that responsibility you are giving them.
3. Appoint a reserve Executor
In many cases, spouses are obviously name as executors but if something were to happen to both of you or when the time comes your spouse doesn’t wish to carry out the duty, you will be left without an executor. By appointing a reserve or a secondary executor, who is happy to take on the role you give yourself and your family some security and peace of mind. At Asset Harbour we put ourselves as last reserve executor to ensure that your loved ones have the extra backup of us being involved.
4. Appoint Guardians
Accepting the role of a Guardian, means becoming legally responsible for your children until they reach the age of 18. If you don’t appoint a guardian to look after them, one will be appointed by the court. If parents aren’t married they should appoint each other as guardians particularly as unmarried fathers do not qualify for automatic guardianship.
5. Appoint trustworthy Trustees
A trustee will be responsible for ‘looking after’ your estate until it lawfully passes to your beneficiaries, they should be trustworthy enough to be able to look after potentially large sums of money, investments or property in a responsible and secure way.
6. Make specific Legacies
If you want specific family heirlooms such as jewellery to go to particular beneficiaries, you must name these in your will.
7. Don’t forget the’ Residue’
Once you have made your specific legacies, you should consider specifying where the ‘residue’ of your estate should go, to avoid it becoming subject the the laws of intestacy and/or causing a free-for-all.
8. Reduce Inheritance Tax
IHT is an unwelcome burden to many families particularly when there are large properties involved, significantly increasing the value of an estate. For married couples, adding a discretionary trust in your wills could save your children a lot of money in inheritance tax.
9. Sign your Will
Importantly, don’t forget to sign your will in front of two independent witnesses, ie not mentioned or married to anyone in the will, an un-signed will is not valid.
10. Store it safely
Once you have your will drafted exactly according to your wishes, you should consider a safe storage facility, this will protect your will against unforeseen damage or loss and your executors will know exactly where to find it when the time comes.