6 Things to consider when making a will

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At Wills.Services, we believe that writing a will is crucial for anyone who wants to protect their estate and their legacy – after all, it only seems fair that you have a say in what happens to your hard-earned assets in the event of your death.

But before jumping into making a will, there are a number of things to consider and a handful of questions that you might ask yourself first: What is the best way to ensure the distribution of my estate to loved ones? How can I cut my Inheritance Tax bill? Will I need to write assets into a trust?

Making a will in the UK can be a complicated process without the right advice. From guardianship orders and trustees to appointing the executor of your will, this guide will help you establish what to put in your last will and testament to make sure that your loved ones are never left in the dark.

What to know before making a will

Whether you’re writing a will online or on paper, there are a few things you’ll have to keep in mind. While the factors can vary from person to person, we’ve established 6 key things you’ll need to consider when will writing:

  1. What is the total value of your estate? This includes everything from the money in your bank account to any property that you own.
  2. Is your estate subject to Inheritance Tax? IHT rates in the UK can be as high as 40%, so you’ll need to account for this when managing your estate.
  3. Who are your beneficiaries? Your will should clearly state who gets what from your estate in the most specific terms possible.
  4. Who is your executor? You must decide who will be in charge of going through the process of probate and ensuring that your estate is distributed correctly, according to your wishes.
  5. Are any assets being written in trust? If you have children, you may wish to write their inheritance into a trust for them to receive it at a particular age. 
  6. Do you need to appoint a guardian? Any dependents, such as children, will need caring for in the event of your death.

#1) Valuing your estate

One of the first steps to take when writing a will is to calculate the total value of your estate.

An estate is made up of everything you own, from significant assets like businesses, vehicles and property to smaller items like jewellery, artwork and furniture.

When you pass away, your estate will have to be valued again to account for any changes that might have occurred between the time the will was written and the time of death, but that’s not to say that you shouldn’t do it beforehand. Not only can it help to relieve some of the stress from your family, but one of the main reasons for valuing an estate is so that you can begin planning for Inheritance Tax. 

 

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#2) Inheritance tax planning

If your estate is valued any higher than £325,000 (the nil rate band), the amount that exceeds this will be subject to 40% Inheritance Tax. Anything below and up to this amount is tax-free – you are only charged IHT on the amount exceeding £325,000.

For example, if you value your estate at £350,000, only £25,000 of it will be subjected to the 40% Inheritance Tax. In this situation, £10,000 IHT would be owed.

Thankfully there are a number of ways to reduce (or sometimes completely avoid) Inheritance Tax, which you can learn more about in our Inheritance Tax planning guide.

 

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#3) Choosing beneficiaries

When making a will, one of the key decisions you’ll have to make is who will inherit your assets – these people are known as beneficiaries. 

It is most common for people to leave their assets to their spouse or children, while some opt to donate a percentage of their wealth to charity.

In many cases, estate management can be a complex topic requiring the input of a trained professional. At Wills.Services, we have a team of will-writing experts on hand to ensure that both your loved ones and your assets are dealt with appropriately following your death.

To find out more about naming beneficiaries, read our guide to leaving gifts in your will

 

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#4) Appointing an executor of a will

Arguably the most important role during probate is the executor of a will, who is in charge of ensuring that any taxes, debts and administration fees are paid on the estate before distributing the remaining assets amongst beneficiaries. 

In an ideal world, the executor of a will should be somebody whom you know will have your best interests at heart post-death. However, most people choose an independent, professional legal expert to be the executor of their will, as this can help avoid any conflict amongst loved ones and save them the hassle of dealing with such a complicated and costly process during an already-difficult time.

Being an executor can be extremely time consuming, as well as complicated and stressful – if you’d rather not put those pressures on the shoulders of somebody you know, you may decide to appoint a professional instead.

At Wills.Services, we provide a fixed-fee/fixed rate probate and executor service allowing you to leave everything in our hands so that your loved ones can grieve in peace when the time comes.

 

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#5) Writing assets into trust

From tangible assets like property and land to intangible assets like life insurance policies and cash savings, the majority of your estate can be written into a trust if you see fit.

The main reason for writing assets into a trust is to ensure that underage children receive their fair share of inheritance at a later date, with the trust including instructions that allow the child access once they reach a certain age. 

Any assets that are put into a trust are no longer seen as part of your estate, meaning its taxable value will decrease – this is just one great way of reducing Inheritance Tax bills.

When writing assets into a trust, a trustee must be appointed to manage the trust until the time comes for the beneficiary to receive it. This person is then required by law to abide by any rules laid out in the terms of the trust.

 

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6) Appointing a legal guardian

If you were to die tomorrow, who would look after your children?

By appointing a legal guardian in your will, you can ensure that your children are taken care of from the moment you pass away. A guardianship order is commonly given to close relatives like grandparents, aunties or uncles; however, you can also leave your children in the capable hands of friends if you so wish.

Remember that being appointed a legal guardian is a huge commitment, so give the person you choose ample time to consider whether or not they are up to the job – make it clear that you will by no means be offended if they would rather not be given the responsibility.

 

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Will writing with Wills.Services

Now that you know what to consider when making a will, you can begin the process of writing one today with our expert team here at Wills.Services. 

Write your will online today for as little as £29.99 and have it reviewed by a legal professional – once it has been approved, we will send you it by post, so that for you to witness, sign and return.

We also provide will storage services, so that you can keep it safe and your executors know exactly where it is stored, ready for when the time comes.

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