We all need to make a Will to provide for loved ones after we have gone and to make sure our wishes are carried out. Otherwise, promises you have made may be disregarded, and you may leave your loved ones with legal and financial problems to sort out.The following steps outline the process.
1.Meeting with us
An initial meeting with one of our lawyers will give you the opportunity to discuss the matters below and outline your wishes. It will also give us the opportunity to guide you through the process, explain how best to achieve your wishes and advise you on inheritance tax planning, if appropriate.
2.Choose the executors
You need to think about who you would like to administer your Will as executor(s). You can nominate your husband, wife or civil partner, a close friend, or a solicitor. Howell-Jones LLP often acts as executor. Please note that a beneficiary of your Will can also act as your executor.
3.Guardians for young children
If you have children under 18, it is important to choose and ask a guardian to look after them in the event of your death.
4.What do you own?
Make a note of your assets and their approximate value on the following page. The value of your estate will be your assets minus any outstanding money owed e.g.mortgage, loans etc.It would be helpful if you can please bring this completed Will planner with you to your initial meeting, but please do not worry if you are not able to answer all or any of the questions.
5.Who do you want to leave your assets to?
Make a note of who you would like to benefit from your estate. Your beneficiaries might include, your partner or spouse, children and other family members, friends or charities.
6. How do you want to leave your assets?
You will also need to decide how you want to split your money and property. You can leave various gifts e.g. amounts of money, personal itemsor a share in your estate. There is no limit to the number of different gifts you can make.
The IHT rules are not straightforward and specialist advice on your specific circumstances is always recommended on how to legally avoid IHT or minimize the amount of IHT payable on your death which could save thousands of pounds.
8.Protecting your beneficiaries
Sometimes you might want to set some safeguards on your gifts–for example, if you’re leaving something to a child, someone with disabilities or mental health issues or to your second spouse or civil partner.Many people handle these issues by setting up trusts: this means that what you leave can be managed by people you trust to act in the best interests of your beneficiary.
9.Approving your Will
Following our meeting with you, we will send a draft Will for you to look over. Any changes can be made at this point. Once you are happy with the Will, we will prepare the final version which will need to be signed and witnessed. If you wish, your Will can be signed at any of our offices and we can act as your witnesses. Please note that beneficiaries or their spouse/civil partner cannot witness your Will.
10.Keeping your Will safe
You can keep your original Will at home or we can look after it for you and provide you with a photocopy. Don’t forget to make sure your family know where your original Will is.