Deciding to sit down and create a will is one of the best things you can do for your own
peace of mind, and for your loved ones. There is a lot to think about – and a lot that we
would rather not think about – but ironing out all those creases now means that you won’t
need to panic and rush through a will at a later date.
For obvious reasons, working with an experienced solicitor to create your will is the best
possible line of defence against errors, omissions, or oversights. The biggest risk arises when
you attempt to create a ‘DIY’ will on your own. Nevertheless, it pays to be prepared, and to
start thinking about the details ahead of your meeting with your solicitor.
For that reason, here are six of the most important details in any will.
1. An Executor of Your Estate
While it may be the case that many people are mentioned within your will as beneficiaries –
or even just a small few – it remains the case that a will must have a named executor. This is
the person whose job it will be to ensure that your will is ‘executed’ – or carried out –
according to your wishes.
It’s also a good idea to name a second, alternative executor, in case the first is no longer
capable of carrying out the task when the time comes.
An executor can be almost anyone, but it is important you put some thought into your
choice. Dealing with the affairs of someone who has died can be complicated, so talk to the
person you are considering and make sure you’re both on the same page first.
2. Your Digital Assets
In days gone by, wills didn’t need to make any mention of digital assets for the simple
reason that no one had any. These days, however, so much of our lives exist on our phones
and computers that, for the vast majority, the assets contained within them need to be
given the same treatment as any physical assets.
This ranges from the sentimental digital assets, like photographs (or account passwords to
Cloud storage, for instance), to high value assets like E-wallets. You need to provide details
for accessing your devices and accounts, or your loved ones may struggle to recover them.
3. Named Beneficiaries, and Specific Instructions for Them
Being as clear as possible about who should inherit what, and how you with your estate to
be divided between your beneficiaries, is key. The clearer you can be with your instructions,
the better. See your will as a practical roadmap for your loved ones to follow – one that will
make the days and weeks that follow your death clearer, and help to circumvent any
disputes arising between your family members.
If things aren’t clear, then you’re leaving the door open for rifts to open up – for your loved
ones to feel as though they have no other option than to turn to will dispute solicitors in an
attempt to get back what they feel they are owed.
4. Residual Debts/Tax Instructions
It’s not just our wealth that needs to be dealt with after we die. We also need to ensure that
our closest relatives are aware of any ongoing expenses, debts, or outstanding tax payments
to be made. Giving instructions, along with identifying a bank account to be used, it
Also keep in mind any directions you have for paying for the funeral and probate.
5. Instructions for Your Pets
It’s very important that you make proper plans for your pets. Choosing someone to care for
them after your death (and, of course, agreeing on those plans with your chosen carer) can
offer you a profound sense of reassurance. Otherwise, you can’t be sure what will happen,
or who will take them in, when you are no longer around.
Broaching the subject with the person you choose to look after them will be tricky. Very few
of us are comfortable talking about death, but it is impossible to overstate the value of
putting these plans in place.
6. A Disinheritance Clause (if Applicable)
Sometimes, for whatever reason, a testator will choose to disinherit one or more of their
family members. This is well within their rights to do, even if the person named within the
will is a very close relative – for instance, a biological child – but it’s always advisable that
you make your plans known ahead of time, to avoid any shocks after your death.
You need to be very clear about who is disinherited. While it’s not legally necessary for you
to provide a reason, it is generally best to do so.
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