You can appoint guardians for your minor children rather than leave who will care for them to chance. Find out more about appointing a guardian.
You can set out your funeral wishes. Even if you really have no preference, this can remove a lot of stress for loved ones who otherwise have to second-guess what you might have wanted on your death.
Loss of inheritance is a very real risk if you instead make a ‘Mirror Will’, a common type of Will which leaves everything to your spouse or civil partner first. Find out more about Mirror Wills here.
You can reduce the risk and protect some of your assets by leaving them in a Will trust. For example, you might grant a life interest to your spouse in your share of the family home with the remainder to your children. If your spouse remarries after your death, there is no risk that your share will pass sideways out of the family. Further, if your spouse should need care or fall into financial difficulties, your share of the estate will remain protected.
Trusts can similarly help protect assets left to grown up children who may go through divorce or financial difficulties. Find out more about trusts for minor children and grandchildren.
You can leave pets much like you leave personal property, together with a gift of money contingent on the beneficiary accepting responsibility for the pet. Find out more about leaving a legacy for a pet.
You can specify what happens to your assets and ensure sentimental items are left with those who would appreciate them. By contrast, without a Will, your estate will pass according to intestacy. For example, all of your personal items and the first £270,000 of your estate will pass to your spouse or civil partner (if you have one) with the remainder (if any) split 50/50 between your spouse and your children (if you have them). Even if this seems acceptable now, it may not be sufficient at the time of your death and does not protect your share if your partner needs care in the future, falls into financial difficulty or remarries.
Making a Will also allows you to plan how you leave your estate in a tax-friendly way. For example, you may be able to take advantage of the Residence Nil Rate Band to extend your normal Inheritance Tax Allowance; or there may be further opportunities to save tax where your estate includes business property.
Provide for cohabitees, who currently do not benefit under the rules of intestacy (i.e. the rules about distributing your estate if you did not make a Will) even if they have children with you. Find out more about legal issues cohabitees should consider.
If you wish, you can include a formula that specifies a certain proportion of your estate goes to charity, so that your estate benefits from a reduced rate of inheritance tax. Find out more about how gifting to charity affects Inheritance Tax.
Making a Will allows you to select Executors of your choice who will manage your estate when you die. If you don’t make a Will, the person or persons who will manage your estate will be those set out by the law. You can find out more in our guide to Letters of Administration. Clearly it is preferable to choose the people you trust to properly administer your estate, rather than leaving this to chance.
A Will is a sort of message to your loved ones after you die. It’s an opportunity to show them that you care by thinking of them and providing for them. Failure to make a Will sends the opposite message!
Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be extremely stressful. What were their wishes regarding a funeral? What did they want to happen to their personal possessions? How did they want their assets to be split? If all these things are unknown, the stress is increased at an already very difficult time. A Will provides clear answers for those left behind and a clear message that you cared enough to put your affairs in order.
Making a Will can help prevent discord in the family. It is a clear statement of your wishes so that nobody is in any doubt as to where you want your assets to go. In addition, if you decide to leave assets in an unexpected way (for example, a smaller share to some children than others) we can help reduce the risk of a claim being made through various means.
We offer a free information pack on making a Will, without obligation. This explains how you can use your Will to protect more of your money for future generations. Simply complete the form below and we’ll post out your pack to you. We also offer a free one-hour appointment to discuss making a Will, again without any obligation.