One of our many key goals in everyday business is to make Will Writing and Estate Planning as simple (and affordable) as possible. When it comes to the basics of simply making a Will, many people are put off by thinking that they need to do FAR more in preparation for producing this document than is actually required.
The nature of how we work means that when people make a Will with us, our trained estate planners undertake a bespoke, full ‘Estate Review’ asking what you have and what do you want doing with it when you pass away.
Many people wrongly assume that at that appointment we will require lists and lists of all of their possessions and ideas of what will happen to them, which puts them off making the will. However, the truth is that we only need to know about larger assets (cars, boats, and jewellery worth over £5,000) and any finances you have in bank accounts, savings or investments. The reason we need to know this information specifically is 1) to check for any inheritance tax liabilities and 2) to check that you understand (roughly) what you own in your ‘estate’ as part of our test of capacity- you must have full capacity to make a Will.
People also assume we will need to see lots of housing documents relating to what they own, which we also do not require.
In reality, most of our clients look at their ‘estate’ as a whole and essentially say that everything they own at the time of their death goes to their partner, split between their kids or goes to another person/people/organisation and so we do not need lists of individual items. In some cases people want specific items of value (including cash itself) or sentiment to go to specific people or organisation (such as a charity) as a gift or legacy. With physical items, such as a watch for example, we would list these in the will along with a description of the item (you could even keep photographs of the items with your will).
The truth is that the most useful thing you can bring to any appointment is a photographic ID (to prove you are who you say you are) along with the names, date of birth, phone numbers and addresses of everyone who will be mentioned in your will as a beneficiary or executor. Written down spellings of names is particularly important. Other than that, anything else that we need can be supplied after the meeting. Overall we hope the above information is useful to you, and where you possibly thought that you were not organised enough to make a will, in actual fact you probably are…