If you’re considering writing a Will, there are a number things to consider before you start.

Firstly, there’s the two basic requirements that you must meet:

  1. You must be at least 18 years old. (The exception to this is soldiers on active duty and sailors out at sea – for these, the age limit is 14.)
  2. You must be ‘of sound mind’ when you sign the Will and mentally capable of understanding exactly what you’re doing, along with the consequences of any action.

Further exemptions can apply, but if you meet these two requirements you can make a start…

Begin with your assets

Make as much of a comprehensive list as you can, which details all your assets, including money, property, investments and any other valuable personal possessions.

Decide who to appoint as Executor

You must decide who your Executor(s) will be, and then name them in your Will.

The Executor(s) will be responsible for administering your Estate after your death. This process includes gathering all the assets and ensuring any debts, bills and taxes are paid; and distributing the remainder of your Estate to any beneficiaries.

All of this is done in accordance with your Will.

The Executors of your Will can also hold any assets ‘in trust’ for a beneficiary, if the beneficiary is under 18 at the time of your death, and if this is also outlined in your Will.

Take care when choosing an Executor

The responsibilities of an Executor can be difficult to carry out for a person who isn’t used to dealing with any legal, financial and administrative matters, especially since they can be held liable for making any errors. This means it’s important to carefully consider who you want to name as an Executor. You should speak to them about it first, if possible, before you start to write your Will.

You might see some firms offering heavily discounted or free Will writing services. These may seem tempting, but you should be aware that the reason a lot of them offer these generous deals is so that they can be appointed as the Executor of the Will. Whilst they can be removed as Executor at a later stage, doing so can result in unwanted delays and charges.

Some other things to consider when choosing an Executor:

Do you need to establish a Trust?

If you have a child or children under the age of 18, then it may be more beneficial to appoint a professional such as a solicitor or accountant as one of the Executors. This is because it will be necessary to create a Trust – which is an arrangement that allows any assets to be held until the named beneficiaries are over 18.

Setting up a Trust involves appointing Trustees who will be responsible for holding and managing the assets, such as money or property, in accordance with the instructions that you set out in your Will.

Familiarise yourself with Inheritance Tax

Inheritance Tax (IHT) is the tax payable on the total value of any assets that you leave behind. The current threshold is £325,000 per person – doubling to £650,000 for a married couple or registered civil partners. This applies if the first person to die leaves their entire Estate to their partner.

Where there is a transfer of a property to children, there is an additional £175,000 allowance to each spouse making it possible to leave a family home to a child worth £1 million free of IHT.

By familiarising yourself with the rules of how IHT is calculated, you can more easily organise your finances and your Will to help minimise the amount of IHT that will be payable on your death.

What about Probate?

Your Executors can deal with the probate process themselves. However, this can be a confusing and stressful process – especially at such a difficult time. A lot of people prefer to appoint a probate practitioner to help them.

At Get Probate, we help people deal with obtaining the Grant of Probate and the full probate process, whilst they remain as Executor of the Will.

We are a firm of authorised and regulated non-contentious probate practitioners.

Our advice is free and confidential; and are fees are very affordable. 

For more information, about the Probate process contact us on 0161 907 4044 or contact us as [email protected]