Firstly, may I welcome and wish you all a Happy New Year from everyone here at Linder Myers. Some people may feel a slump following the Christmas season so why not start the year by being proactive and take the time to write the most important document of your life! What document may I be referring to …… that would be your Last Will & Testament!
Often people consider writing their Will when they have suffered bereavement or a family member has been seriously ill. I have even come across people that are frightened of making a Will as they fear that once they have signed on the dotted line, they will meet their maker. I have to say it took me several years to persuade my father-in-law to make a Will, which he did a few years ago and guess what, he is still with us.
A Will requires careful consideration and I shall provide you with some information that you need to think about:-
1. Executors & Trustees
Executors & Trustees are the people responsible for protecting your assets, cashing them in, discharging your liabilities and distributing your estate in accordance with your wishes. You must choose someone you can trust such as family, friends or a professional adviser.
2. Funeral Wishes
Advising your loved ones whether you want to be cremated or buried can be a sensitive conversation, which many families do not have. Therefore, expressing your wish in your Will can save you from having that uncomfortable conversation.
I’ve attempted to have that conversation with my mother, but I’m fortunate as she has told me categorically that she is not going to die! I just hope she shares what she knows with me before my number is up.
If you have minor children you may wish to appoint someone to take responsibility for them. This will only take effect if there is no one who is legally responsible for them.
4. Specific Gifts
You may wish to leave personal possessions to your loved ones such as jewellery, tools, furniture or sums of money.
5. Residuary Gifts
After any specific gifts and all liabilities have been discharged, the residue of your estate remains which can be given to your chosen beneficiaries.
6. Second Marriages
You need to consider protecting your children from your first marriage. For instance, if you leave your whole estate to your spouse, your children may not benefit from your estate on the second death as your spouse may leave his/her estate to his/her children.
7. Charitable Gifts
Leaving gifts to charities have tax advantages as they are exempt from Inheritance Tax.
8. Local Authority Fees
You may wish to seek advice as to what your options are in respect of your house, in the event you or your spouse requires care.
9. Business Succession Planning
Decisions will need to be made regarding the succession of your business in retirement or on death. You should consider what should happen to the running of the business and the business assets especially if family members are involved.
The list above is not exhaustive and each person has a different set of circumstances, therefore it important that your Will is tailored to suit your needs.Find out more about our Trusts & Estates department