What are the main components of a Will?
A Will is made up various components and it is really important that you understand each component and what they will mean when you die. Our expert Wills, Estate Planning and Trusts Team will of course guide you through the process at every step of the way but in order to help get you thinking about your Will, below is an overview of the main components of a Will.
Funeral wishes made in a Will
You may wish to indicate in your Will what you would like to happen to your body on your death i.e. cremated or buried. You may also wish to indicate where you would like to be buried or where you would like your ashes scattered. It is however important to note that funeral wishes in a Will can never me legally binding and will only act as a guide.
Rather than include specific details about your funeral wishes in your Will, you should write a letter outlining these wishes and request it to be stored with your Will. You can then update this letter as often as you like.
Naming executors in your Will
The executor(s) of your Will are responsible for dealing with your estate when you die. It is therefore really important that you consider this component very carefully and appoint people who you trust and can rely on to carry out your wishes. Some of the duties carried out by the executor(s) can include:
- Arranging your funeral
- Liaising with asset holders, such as banks and building societies, to value your estate
- Arrange for valuations of any property or other assets you may own
- Providing a detailed report of your estate to HMRC and arranging for the payment of any potential inheritance tax
- Applying for a grant of probate to allow them access to your estate
- Selling your property and investments
- Dealing with your utility accounts
- Closing down your bank and building society accounts
- Settling any debts you may have and paying for your funeral (from your estate funds)
- Distributing your estate according to the terms of your Will
How many executors can you name in a Will?
You can appoint as many executors as you wish, however we would not recommend appointing more than four.
What if my executor dies before me or cannot take on the role?
We would always recommend you include at least one substitute executor in your Will to cover the eventuality that your original executor cannot or will not act.
Should I tell the person, I have appointed them as an executor?
Although there is no legal obligation to notify someone you are appointing as an executor, we would always recommend you do so. As shown above, acting as an executor is a big job and it carries a lot of responsibility and it is therefore best to have a conversation and make sure the person is comfortable in being appointed.
Can I appoint professional executors in my Will?
If you are unsure who to appoint as your executor(s), you can appoint professional executors to act on your behalf.
Nominating people to look after children in your Will
Within your Will you may wish to appoint a person or persons to become the legal guardian of any child or children you have aged under 18.
Specific legacies in Wills
It is possible to leave specific items under your Will. This may include, for example, a particular painting, an item of jewellery, a car or even a house! It is really important that the wording in the Will is correct and accurately reflects your wishes in relation to the gift.
For example, if you wanted to leave your car to a specific person, you would need to think about every eventuality, such as owning a different car on your death or owning no car at all.
It is possible to leave all of your possessions to your executor(s) to deal with as guided by you, which you may have done through a letter or verbally before your death. We would always recommend writing your wishes down in a letter and having this stored with your Will. You are free to update this letter as often as you like.
Pecuniary Legacies are gifts of specific amounts of money. You may wish to leave amounts of money to specific people, i.e. ‘my friend Doreen’, or to a class of people, i.e. ‘any grandchild I may have at my death’, or to a charity. There is no limit to the amount of pecuniary legacies you can leave in your Will.
Your residuary estate is what is left after the payment of all debts, expenses, inheritance tax and pecuniary legacies. We would recommend that you think about this part of your Will very carefully and also give consideration as to whether or not you want to include substitute beneficiaries in the event that the originals have died before you.
Contact Our Wills lawyers in Brighton & Hove, Uckfield and Sevenoaks
Rix & Kay’s specialist Wills, Estate Planning and Trusts Team are experts in guiding individuals through every stage of the Will writing process and are also able to act as professional executors on your behalf.