What can I leave in my will? Private Wealth

A will details what should happen to your estate (including money, property, investments, and your possessions). It should also leave instructions of who will look after your surviving children.

Below is a list of things you can leave in your will, and areas to consider if you’re looking to write one.

Bequests and Assets

A will should set out how your assets will be shared among beneficiaries.

In your will, you can specifically detail which person (or organisation) should receive which assets. These bequests can include property, family heirlooms, sentimental keepsakes, or money.

It is also possible to leave individuals the ‘residue’ of your estate. A residual legacy is whatever remains in a particular asset. For example, you might wish to bequest Person A £5,000 from your bank account and leave what remains to Person B.

A residual legacy is what remains after legacies are honoured and debts are settled. It is not impossible that, after debts have been paid and specific legacies have been distributed, there is nothing left for the person named as receiving your residual estate.

Property

If you own a property outright, you can name an individual as the new owner of that property. That means that ownership of the property transfer to that person in the event of your death.

If you jointly-own a property with someone else, the process differs.

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the property is held in one of two ways:
In a joint tenancy, the half of the property of the deceased passes on to the surviving joint tenant automatically.
In a tenancy in common, you can leave your share of the property to someone else in your will. They then become tenants in common with the other owner of the property.

If there is still a mortgage on the property, it is the responsibility of the heirs to make new arrangements with the mortgage lender.

It is also possible to give a person ‘right of residence’, which specifies that an individual can live at the property for a length of time, while the ownership of the property passes to someone else.

If you own property in another country, you should seek legal advice when including them in your will. Laws of intestacy differ in other countries, which could mean your will is not legally valid in the location of your property.

Children

If you are a parent or guardian of children under 18, then your will should detail who should be their guardian in the event of your death. Without this, the decision sits with the family courts.

As well as this, your will should also set out how your children will be supported financially. For children under the age of 18, their inheritance is held in trust until they turn 18, or until they get married. Should you wish, you can include instructions for how this trust is managed until that time. If you don’t, the trust is dealt with according to ‘trustee laws.’

While the default is that children will receive any inheritance as soon as they turn 18, it is possible to establish a trust that only releases the money or property when they reach a milestone or specific age over 18.

Charitable Donations

It is possible to leave a portion of your estate to charity.

To do this, the amount should be specified in your will and the charity must be registered in the UK.

Should you leave more than 10% of your estate to charity, then the inheritance tax rate on your remaining estate will fall from 40% to 36%. This is the same if you leave a portion of your estate to a political party, sports club, or university.

Digital Assets & Online Accounts

In this digital age, any digital assets you own also form part of your estate and possessions. Digital assets include photographs, music, and films you’ve bought online.

As well as this, your will can include what you would like to happen to your social media accounts.

In these cases, it is advisable to leave login details for the executor of you will. However, you shouldn’t leave these in the will itself but a separate document. This is because wills are a public record and are accessibly by anyone.

Pets

If you have pets, you can leave instructions for who should care for them, and how, in your will.

Money for the care of your pets can be put aside and included in your will, with instructions on how this is used to care for them in the future.

Funeral Arrangements

Many individuals choose to leave instructions for their funeral in their will (e.g. whether they would like to be buried or cremated, etc.) While these instructions can help make a difficult time easier for loved ones, they are not legally binding. Executors have the final say over your funeral arrangements.

In some cases, wills aren’t ready to be read until the funeral is arranged. Therefore, to ensure your wishes are considered at the right time, it is advisable to share them with a friend or trusted loved one too.

Will & Probate Advice from Beswicks Legal

At Beswicks Legal, we can help you to put proper arrangements in place in regard to your will. Or, if you require advice about probate, or need to establish a Lasting Power of Attorney, our specialist solicitors are here to support you.
We understand that making a will and plans of this nature for the future can feel daunting. However, with our help you can rest assured that your affairs are in order and your family’s future is protected in the event of your death. Contact us today to talk about how we can support you.