Making a will is one of the most important things you will do in your lifetime. Without a will, it could be that your loved ones aren’t taken care of financially in the best way possible. You won’t get to plan around Inheritance Tax, which could leave beneficiaries with a larger-than-necessary tax bill to pay. You certainly won’t be able to leave a legacy to your favourite charity, and it may even turn out that your estate doesn’t pass to those you wanted it to.
Many people like the fact that with a will, they are in control of what happens to their estate on their passing. But whilst most are clear on what they want to include in the will, many are unaware of what they are not allowed to put it in, or indeed, what is not legal.
With this in mind, here are five of the most common things that people mistakenly believe should be included in a will, but certainly should not.
What you should never put in your will
A will is not the place to make poignant statements or unusual requests. It is a legal document which should be kept as simple as possible, so as not to raise difficulties for those dealing with your estate when the time comes.
Here’s what you should never put in your will…
If you are considering attaching conditions to gifts left in your will, think again. Such conditions are not legal, and would in any case be very difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. So if you were thinking about leaving your car to your sister on the basis of her having divorced your brother-in-law, you need not bother.
If however you wish to make some form of encouragement, such as leaving your gold watch to your granddaughter on her graduation, then this would be acceptable, although again it could be difficult to enforce.
2. Funeral arrangements
A will is not the right place in which to set down your funeral wishes. Whilst some people do include a clause as to whether they wish to be buried or cremated, the fact remains that your body is not under the control of your estate, and so your wishes may not be carried out. What’s more, funeral arrangements tend to be made before the will is released, which means they won’t be seen in time.
The best course of action is to discuss your funeral plan with your next of kin or executors, and leave them a written note of your wishes.
3. Gifts to pets
Another thing you should never put in your will is gifts to pets. It is not legally possible to pass assets on to an animal.
Instead, you may wish to arrange a plan for your pet’s care following your passing, either with someone you trust or an organisation that does this professionally for a fee. You may also consider making a donation to a relevant animal charity.
4. Jointly held assets, life insurance and pension benefits
Carrying on with what you should never put in your will, our next item is jointly held assets, such as property and bank accounts.
If you hold property has a joint tenant with another party, then the right of survivorship will apply. This means that when you or the other joint tenant dies, the surviving party will automatically own the entire property. There is therefore no point whatsoever in including joint property in your will.
Similarly, any funds in a joint current or savings account will automatically pass to the surviving account holder.
If you are a partner in a business, then it is unlikely that you will be able to will your share to anyone without the prior agreement of the other business partners.
Pension plans and life insurance will more often than not require the holder to appoint a beneficiary of the plan. When you die, the assets related to the pension plan or life insurance will automatically transfer to the beneficiary, which means they cannot be left in your will.
5. Anything you don’t own outright
If you have belongings that were funded by a finance agreement, then you will be unable to list these in your will as they are not legally yours to gift.
Items such as leased cars, or for example a high value laptop that you bought on a hire purchase agreement, will usually have to be returned to the finance provider.
A Trusted Will Writing Service from Partridge Muir & Warren
When it comes to writing your will, the experts at Partridge Muir & Warren are ready to provide you with the professional advice you need to make the right decisions about what you should put in your will, and what you should never put in your will.
Our aim is to ensure your executors are not left facing a challenge in administering your estate, and also to make certain that those you care about most are catered for in the best way possible. We offer a full estate planning, trust creation and maintenance and Inheritance Tax planning service, ensuring all your needs are fully covered.