"A man can do all things if he but wills them."
Leon Battista Alberti
Legal specialist in providing Later Life estate planning solutions and advising vulnerable clients.
When arranging my Will what sort of things should I consider?
Gavin says: ‘When deciding to set up a Will, there are several important things you need to give thought to first.’
1. The appointment of an Executor:
The first thing that one should consider is who you would like to name as your executor in your Will. An executor is responsible for handling your estate and seeing that your hard earned assets go where you want them to go. He must also look after your assets while they are under administration. For example, he should if you have property see that it is insured and secure. Also, the executor must apply to the government for permission to handle your estate (obtain a Grant of Probate) and settle any estate expenses (taxes, funeral expenses, etc.). Once your executor has obtained the Grant of Probate, he can then consider distributing your estate to your chosen beneficiaries. This is a very important role carrying a lot of responsibility and you will need to decide whether you should appoint a lay person or professional to do this job for you. Also, you should consider appointing more than one person as executor, in case your first choice cannot act at the time of need.
2. The appointment of Trustees:
A trustee is responsible for looking after any estate asset which cannot, for whatever reason, pass to a named beneficiary when the executor is ready to distribute the estate assets to the beneficiaries. Often appointed executors also act as trustees in many Wills, however you can appoint others to act.
3. The appointment of Guardians:
If you have minor children, another important consideration is the appointment of guardians. Should a child’s parents die, Social Services will decide where the child will stay and what care they will receive. You can appoint a guardian for your child in your Will. Who would make a good guardian does requires careful consideration. Essentially, you are looking for someone who is able, capable and willing to take on this important role.
4. Disposing of your estate:
There are several ways you can choose to dispose of your estate when you die. First, there is a simple gift. For example, my car at the date of my death to my son. Whatever car you have at the date of your death will then pass to your son.
Second, there is a gift of money, a pecuniary gift. For example, £100 to my local animal charity.
Thirdly, there is the gift of residue, that which remains of your estate, after gifts and estate expenses. Often, this is a large chuck of your estate.
5. Funeral Wishes:
The purpose of setting up a Will is to take control and plan what is going to happen to your estate assets when you die. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to also consider including some wishes as to how you would like your funeral to dealt with. Your executors, who are responsible to see to your funeral arrangements, will be happy for your guidance in this regard.