WHAT IS A WILL AND WHAT DOES IT CONTAIN
Your Will is an important legal document, it allows you to nominate personal representatives (Executors) to administer your Estate (the term used to describe the total amount of your wealth), choose Guardians for the welfare of your children (under the age of 18 years), to determine your funeral arrangements (if you wish) and finally to distribute all of your possessions and your wealth to whoever YOU choose.
Without a Will you will not have nominated Executors or Guardians. This will cause your family serious legal problems and costs. Your wealth will be distributed in accordance with the Laws of Succession. Your spouse/partner, children, and other family members will not have a say in how or to whom your wealth is distributed. If any person is in a relationship and not married and does not have a Will then his/her wealth will NOT transfer to the partner, BUT will transfer to the deceased’s child or children. Possibly leaving the partner in an extremely vulnerable financial position.
The following is information that you should consider and discuss with your spouse/partner if appropriate.
You are able to nominate up to four Executors who must be 18 years or over. They can be beneficiaries in your will and nominated for other roles such as Guardians. I usually advise couples to nominate each other as an Executor with, if possible, at least one or two additional Executors who could be your children, siblings, parents, friends or other family members.
Required for the welfare of your children should both parents meet their demise while one or more child is under 18 years of age. You are able to nominate a Guardian or Guardians, for example your sister or your sister and her husband/partner. You may also nominate a substitute Guardian/s to cater for the situation where your original choice has predeceased you or is unwilling or unable to perform the role of Guardian.
It is your choice to include funeral directions in your will. When deciding this question, consider this scenario – would you like to make all the decisions and funeral arrangements for someone you cared for without knowing any of their wishes. If the answer is NO, avoid leaving someone you care for with this nightmare when you have gone.
Your options – Burial (a green burial is available) or Cremation. You can nominate your burial site or where your ashes are placed. Leave reasonable directions for your funeral service for example a non religious humanist service, mourners not to wear black and The Force Flag to be available (serving or retired officers). Also you may request family flowers only with donations to a charity of your choice.
You may make monetary gifts to any person, organisation or charity. This is the opportunity, if you wish, to gift grandchildren, children of a previous relationship or Executors if they are not beneficiaries and many other possibilities.
Secondly, you may make gifts of property to any person, organisation or charity. This is the opportunity for mothers to gift all or part of their jewellery to their daughter/s. Fathers to gift their fishing/shooting equipment or similar to their son/s and again many other possibilities.
This is where you leave the remainder of your estate, usually to your spouse/partner or possibly the children. It is your choice.
FURTHER GIFT OF RESIDUE
At this juncture your spouse/partner has predeceased you and you will choose who is to receive the reminder of the estate. It is usually the children in equal shares but could be a combination of your children, siblings, nephews and nieces, again it is your choice. If you choose to leave the estate to your children, it may be done so absolutely or with the option to their children if any did not survive you.
Within the Will you also have the opportunity to convert your property (your house) to Tenants in Common with Interest in Possession (involves small extra cost for Land Registry title change and Severance documents) in your Will to safeguard your children’s inheritance and/or reduce your exposure to Care/Nursing Home costs. If you own your property as Joint Owners (in legal terms this equals both of you owning 100% of the house) and if one of you then has to move into a Care/Nursing Home the WHOLE value of the house is an asset that could be taken to pay the costs.