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Your 10 step plan for making a Will

Your 10 step plan for making a Will

Your 10 step plan for making a Will

Making a Will is often seen as a  complex and confusing matter but if you are organised and know what to look for then it can be a fairly quick and easy process.

In this post, we’ll give a 10 point plan to help you think about the sorts of things you need to do (and when you need to do them) to make a legal Will.

Step #1 – Work out what you have.

To leave items to people you will need to work out what you actually have so you’ll need to make a form of inventory.

This will be helpful for your executor when you pass on too.

You’ll need to itemise all of the major items such as;

  • Properties including the ownership details and any debts such as a mortgage that is secured on them.
  • Bank, National Savings and building society accounts.
  • Other forms of investments such as ISAs, shares, bonds, physical investments like Krugerrands or fine wines.
  • Motor cars, boats, motorcycles, Camper vans etc.
  • Antiques and collectables such as furniture or other collections.

If things are stored somewhere other than your home then it is worth including a note as to where they are and the access method.

Alongside this, you will want to itemise any debts you may have incurred at the time of writing your Will.

Naturally, some of these may change in time but your inventory will give your executor a good starting point.

Step #2 – Decide what you want to give and to whom.

For many people, this is the tricky part as you need to think carefully about who you are including and who you are excluding.

If you have a relatively simple estate and you wish to leave it all to your spouse then this will be an easy matter for more complex estates and more complicated families then it will naturally take some time to fully plan this out.

However, don’t think that you need to include absolutely everything in the Will. See point number 7.

Step #3 – Think about giving to charity

Is there a charity that you are particularly fond of?

Have you always wished to leave a lasting legacy?

If so then you may want to investigate the charity of your choice and think about what you would like to do for them.

You can leave money for the charity to do with as it sees fit (unrestricted funds) or you may choose to give them restricted funds that they will have to use for a specific purpose that you can specify.

Step#4 – Organise your executors

An executor is the person who is charged with the legal duty of carrying out the instructions contained within your Will.

They will be responsible for collecting all of the assets, valuing them, paying the inheritance tax due, obtaining probate and then distributing the estate.

Consequently, you need to find someone who is not only capable of carrying out these duties diligently but who is also willing to serve.

We’d always suggest getting a minimum of two executors so that if one is indisposed or predeceases you then there is at least one back-up.

You can choose to appoint a family member or friend or you could look for a professional firm that offers this service. SmartWill has an executor service that is efficient and cost-effective. Click here for more.

We’ve written more about executors here 

Step #5 – Think about inheritance tax planning

For even relatively modest estates inheritance tax can be a great burden and with a tax rate of up to 40%, it makes sense to think ahead.

If you have a large estate then we’d definitely suggest that you take professional advice about planning your affairs to minimise the burden that will fall on your estate.

You can find out more about inheritance tax here. 

Step #6 – Write your Will.

Although theoretically, you can write your own Will on the back of an envelope we wouldn’t recommend it.

We’d always suggest that you use a method that will ensure that your Will is legal and that gives you a document that will stand the test of time.

You can choose to use a solicitor or professional Will writer although this will come at a fairly large cost.

The SmartWill app guides you through the process of making your Will and at the end, you receive an archive grade document that you can store or ask us to store, free of charge on your behalf.

Step #7 – Think about writing a ‘Letter of Wishes’

A Letter of Wishes is a document that sits alongside the Will and gives more details as to your thinking around specific issues.

It can be used to gift specific items that may be of sentimental value, send messages to loved ones or to take care of more practical issues like the care of your pets.

Remember though that this is not a legal document and is simply an expression of what you would like to see happen so if you want something to have legal force it needs to go into the main Will.

Read more about letters of wishes here 

Step #8 – Organise the signing of your Will.

This isn’t a simple as just signing at the bottom.

Instead, for the Will to be valid you need to have two, independent witnesses who can sign to say that they have seen you sign and that you did so of your own free will and had the capacity to do so.

Step #9 – Store your Will safely and securely.

You’ll need to make sure that you have somewhere that is secure to store your physical document.

Many people like to store their Wills at home but this can have significant disadvantages in terms of theft, loss or damage through damp, fire or even vermin!

You can store your Will for free using the Smart Will App!

Step #10 – Set a review schedule

Things move on. Perhaps you have acquired new assets, sold some or had additions to the family.

It’s a good idea to have a regular review process so that you sat a date (perhaps the same date each year) when you look back at your Will and see if it needs to be updated in light of new information.

We’ve done a more detailed post about reviewing your Will here

The SmartWill app is a great way to make your Will.

It’s simple, easy to use and you can make a valid, legal Will in as little as ten minutes and our one-time fee includes free Will storage for your documents.

We also have a range of services that will help you from executors to inheritance tax planning to legal experts who can talk you through the more complex estate planning rules.

Why not contact us now or sign up to the Smart Will App here.

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