An appointment with Ackary Benjamin Wills & Estate Planning usually takes about an hour and is a free, no obligation consultation.
The appointment can take place either by telephone, video call or by home visit appointment, meaning you can give your instructions from the comfort of your own home. Alternatively, you are always welcome to visit us at our offices in Reading, Berkshire.
We will guide you on the safest ways to instruct your Will and other legal documents, providing you with information and advice on the surrounding laws and how to fortify the protection of your assets and loved ones.
In preparation of writing your Will, please ask yourself the following:
Who would you like your Executors & Reserve Executors to be?
These are the people that will administer your Will after you have died. Your Executors are legally responsible for ensuring your estate is distributed as per your instructions. They must be over 18 to act and have full mental capacity. A common myth is that your Executors and Beneficiaries cannot be the same people, this isn’t true, it is your beneficiaries and witnesses who cannot be the same people. Please ensure you have their names, addresses and permission to appoint them as your Executors.
Who would you like your Guardians & Reserve Guardians to be for any children under 18?
Your choice of Guardians are people who will have the legal responsibility to look after your children during their minority, should you die before the children reach 18 years of age. The guardianship appointment would only take effect if there was no one else alive who already has parental responsibility.
Things to consider when appointing a Guardian(s):
• What age might the Guardian be by the time the children reach age 18?
• How does your choice of Guardian cope with the children they already have?
• Will the geographical location of your Guardian have an effect on your children?
• Do your religious or ethical beliefs play a factor when choosing your children’s Guardian?
Who would you like your Beneficiaries & Reserve Beneficiaries to be? And what share should everyone have?
In your Will you will bequeath (give) what’s known as your residuary estate. This is the bulk of everything you have, not already given away as a gift in your Will. You decide what percentage share everyone has and also if that share should pass to their descendants should your chosen beneficiary predecease you – this is known as the per stirpes clause. Per stirpes is a Latin phrase roughly translating to ‘by branch’ – if a beneficiary predeceases you then their issue (children) will take by substitution when you die – or further down the line if necessary (if children and grandchildren predeceased you then great-grandchildren would receive it).
Are there any special gifts you would like to leave to anyone in particular?
When a gift is left in a Will it is a legal direction and the gift must be satisfied. If the gift cannot be satisfied, then the gift fails. This is important when it comes to cash gifts, if we leave what we consider to be a large sum to a beneficiary then this could cause issues if the cash is not there to satisfy it. When it comes to larger cash gifts, we may advise that it would be better to leave a percentage of the residuary estate to reduce the chance of complication.
Material gifts can also be left in the Will as can your digital assets (social media accounts, online drives, music, online subscriptions etc.). You can always write a letter of wishes for material gifts – this is explained in the letter of wishes section.
Is there anyone we need to exclude from the Will?
Exclude is a strong word. It’s actually known as a non-provision clause. Making a non-provision clause isn’t just about excluding someone who we feel would make a claim against us, it is also used to show that we are aware of who could make a claim against us if we are not bequeathing that person any of our estate, especially if they would have otherwise been in line to benefit (e.g. an estranged child, separated spouse or even someone who may have lived with you for an extensive period of time).
Do you have any special arrangements for your funeral?
Funeral wishes are perhaps the only area of your Will which remain as wishes and not legal instruction. It is always prudent to let your family and Executors know what your wishes are in fear of them not seeing the Will before your funeral. However, you have the opportunity to implement your requests within your Will for clarification. Such things as burial or cremation and what you would like done with your ashes. Would you like a religious or non-religious service or perhaps no service at all? Are there particular songs, poems or hymns to be played or read or even preferences on what clothing attendees should wear?
Another area that is important is what your wishes are regarding the use of your body after you die. On the 20th May 2020 the law changed to state that if you now do not opt-out of organ donation for when you die, then it is deemed that you agree to allow your body to be used as such. If you do wish to opt-out of organ donation on your death, then please visit the NHS organ donation website to do so officially.
Your Estate and Inheritance Tax (IHT)
What is your estate? Your estate is everything comprising of your net worth, including all land and real estate, possessions, life assurances, cash, and other assets that you own or have a controlling interest in. We will provide you information on what the inheritance tax thresholds currently are, so you can measure your estate against the thresholds to gain an understanding of what potential IHT liabilities could arise and if action is required. For the purposes of our conversation please collect approximate values on what assets and liabilities you have (Properties, Mortgages, Insurances, Savings, Investments, Businesses and other areas of value – above £5k). We do not give specific tax advice but can put you in touch with one of our partners if tax advice is required.
If we can assist with any of the above before your appointment, please do not hesitate to contact us.