It is important for us to accurately identify your chosen beneficiaries. It is also important that we identify any persons to whom you are not providing a benefit under the Will but who may wish to claim against your estate. There are several ways in which challenges can be brought and if we are aware of any likely claims then we can assist you in guarding against such challenges.
If any of your children, your grandchildren or the children of your chosen beneficiaries are step children (i.e. not formally adopted) then please do let us know. If we do not accurately reference them as step children then they are more likely to lose any benefit you intended them to receive.
Your executors are responsible for administering your estate and it is therefore important to give serious consideration as to whom you wish to appoint. You may choose up to four executors but you should bear in mind the costs associated with the number and locality of your executors.
You may wish to appoint your partner, friends or relatives to fulfil this role. You should be confident that you can rely upon them to carry out your wishes, particularly if they are likely to face a conflict of interest in exercising any discretionary powers under the Will. To avoid this problem it is advisable to appoint a professional executor, such as a director of Stonegate, who can provide impartiality in administering your estate. We provide a wide range of fiduciary services, such as executorship and trusteeship, and please do talk to us about this.
Guardians for your children
If you have children under the age of 18 years then you should consider including details of the person(s) you would like to appoint as guardian(s) for your children in the event that you were to die before your children reached the age of 18 years. Guardians of a minor child have an important and responsible role. If there is no-one with parental responsibility for the minor children at the time of death then the guardian steps into the shoes of the parent so far as the major decisions about the child are concerned and will be in control of such matters as where the child is to live and how he is to be educated. The selection of a guardian or guardians should therefore be considered most carefully and you should consider the potential conflict of interest which could arise if the executors and guardians were the same people. It is obviously preferable for discussions to take place with the proposed guardians to ensure that they appreciate and accept their responsibilities. It is also advisable for both parents to appoint the same guardians to avoid conflict at the time of death.
Your funeral arrangements are at the discretion of your executors but you may wish to provide them with guidance in the Will. For example you may have preferences for the ceremony, burial / cremation arrangements or the donation of organs for medical use.
Specific and cash legacies
You need to consider gifts of specific items (such as your personal effects, jewellery or shares) and any gifts of cash which you may wish to make. You should bear in mind that if you provide for a large number of gifts to a wide range of people then you will increase the administrative burden and cost for your executors and thereby reduce the value of your residuary estate. In making specific and/or cash gifts you should ensure that sufficient funds will remain to pass into your residuary estate which will usually represent the bulk of your estate.
Your residuary estate
Following the payment out of your debts, expenses and the above legacies the remaining funds (the residuary estate) will pass to your residuary beneficiaries. You can provide your residuary beneficiary with either absolute gifts or place funds in trust for their benefit.
The persons named as your residuary beneficiaries may die before you or fail to attain the age at which they were to become entitled to their inheritance. It is therefore important to consider what should happen to that beneficiary’s share of your inheritance in such an event. For example should the share pass to his/her spouse, or children, or should it be divided between the remaining residuary beneficiaries?