People often choose to write a Will because they want to be sure that loved ones will be provided for after they’re gone. However, inheritance can be a complicated thing, and it’s all too easy to forget certain arrangements when you’re busy focusing on what seems most important. Here are seven things to keep in mind when you come to write or update your Will.
1. Alternative beneficiaries
You may have a clear idea of who you want to inherit certain portions of your estate, but what happens if they’re unable to take their inheritance – for instance, because they have also passed away? In this case it could revert to the laws of intestacy, so you may want to name an alternative beneficiary within the Will.
2. Digital assets
If you have any sort of presence online – be it an email account, a social media profile or even your own blog – then you have digital assets. You need to make sure that you state what you want to happen to these accounts within your Will and, where necessary, provide a means of accessing login data. Be aware that loved ones looking to delete an account without login details may or may not be able to do so depending on the service, the provider in question and the specific circumstance.
3. Pet care
Not everybody realises that it’s possible to include a pet clause in your Will. This specifies how you want your pet to be looked after, and can also allow you to set aside a portion of money to be passed on to the pet’s new guardian to cover costs of their care. If you don’t know anybody who would be willing to take your pets, some charities are able to rehome them and, again, this would need to be specified within your Will.
4. Trustee and guardian information
This may seem like something most people are unlikely to forget, but sometimes it's easy to make the assumption that, should you pass away before your children turn 18, the role of guardian will simply pass to the other parent.
While this is true, it’s also the case that in some particularly unfortunate circumstances neither of you may survive – for instance in a travel accident. In that case, it will be essential that you have left both care arrangements and financial arrangements. An estate planner will be able to advise you in more detail.
Also, as with alternative beneficiaries, you may want to specify an alternative guardian.
5. Funeral arrangements
You may not feel particularly strongly about funeral arrangements and simply decide to leave it to your family. There is certainly nothing wrong with that, however it can be very stressful for family members to try and decide what you would have wanted. It can also lead to disagreements if members of the family want different things.
Some of this stress may be removed by discussing funeral arrangements beforehand, but leaving details in the Will can give people a more concrete plan to follow in their time of grief.
If, for whatever reason, you would like to stop a specific person from receiving any inheritance, this also needs to be included in the Will. Simply leaving them out of the Will may not be enough, as it can sometimes be contested in court. So, if you have any concerns it is sensible to name anybody that you would like to disinherit within your Will.
Your belongings – commonly referred to as chattels – can be a great way for your family to remember you. Children and other loved ones may want to keep a memento of your life but, at a time when emotions are running high, dividing out belongings can become a cause for dispute.
To avoid this, you may want to include something called a ‘memorandum of wishes’ as an additional document that can be stored alongside your Will and referred to within it. This sets out your wishes for individual items, and can also include explanations of why you’d like your things to be divided in a particular way.
Get help from an estate planner
It’s easy to think of writing a Will as a daunting process, but with the help of a specialist it doesn’t need to be stressful or confusing.
Speak to an estate planner