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What to include in a Will

A Will is an important document that states how you’d like your estate to be divided after you die, providing you with reassurance that your loved ones will get the things you have earmarked for them.

If you’ve never thought about a Will before or are unsure where to begin, the idea of putting one together may seem daunting. First, you should decide what type of Will you want to set up and then how you’d like to put it into place.

Once you’ve decided upon these two things you should have a think about what you will include in your Will.

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Here is a quick guide to some of the things you should consider including in your Will.

Legacies and bequests

The most common thing that Wills cover are bequests and legacies, which is money or belongings that you leave to friends, relatives or charities.

You can state that you’d like to leave fixed sums of cash to as many parties as you see fit, sharing the money among the people or organisations that matter to you the most. There may also be treasured possessions that you want to pass on in line with family traditions or with the idea of starting your own.

The money left over after all debts, fees and taxes have been paid - called the ‘residue’ - can also be left to someone or several individuals.

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legacies and bequests

Taking care of your children

There are three ways you can take care of your children in your Will:

  • naming a guardian for those aged under 18
  • putting something into place to care for them financially
  • leaving them part of your estate.

You can name someone you love and trust to look after your children, such as a partner/spouse (if they are not biologically related or haven’t adopted them) or relative, which will give you added peace of mind knowing that they will be safe and happy. You can also state where the money to look after them will come from, which usually takes the shape of some form of Trust.

If you are leaving them property or money, it will be held until they are of a certain age - usually 18 or 21 - and will be managed according to the trustee laws.

  • Specify who the remainder of your estate is split between

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child with guardian

Property

You may have lived in a house for your entire life and want it to stay within the family or you could own an entire portfolio of property - all of which can be covered in your Will.

If you share ownership with a spouse or partner, then your portion is worth half of the market value (minus your share of the mortgage). Property can be held in a joint tenancy, where your half automatically passes to the surviving joint tenant, or in a tenancy in common, where you can leave your share to someone else in your Will.

house

Executors

When writing your Will, you should appoint someone to carry out your wishes according to your Will. This could be an individual, a group of people or a third-party organisation, such as a solicitor or Will-writing service. You can choose whoever it is that you trust the most, which is something only a Will can do for you.

executor

Funeral

Your Will doesn’t have to be limited to what you’d like to leave your friends and family, it can also ensure that the end of your life reflects how you lived the rest of it. For example, if you are part of a particular religion, you can ensure your funeral adheres to any traditions recognised by your church.

In addition, you can state whether or not you’d like certain medical procedures to be carried out - such as organ transplants and blood transfusions - if you’re unable to give permission at the time. You can also state whether you’d like to be buried or cremated, and whether or not you want a wake.

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