Along with a list of your assets, a will must include those individuals or institutions to whom you are leaving your estate. It should also contain the names of certain people who can validate the document, as well as carry out its orders.
Naming your beneficiaries
Those you choose to inherit from your estate are your beneficiaries. Writing a will is important for these individuals, as sometimes those who we would like to inherit, under intestacy rules would not.
Usually, family would appear first in your will, but anyone can be named, and so it is the best way of showing your appreciation to those who you care about but who might otherwise not stand to receive anything from your estate. This could be a personal carer, a close friend, a charity or institution, or perhaps someone within your extended family, like a stepchild or unmarried partner.
A will also allows you to exclude those who might otherwise inherit from your estate that you don’t want to. For example, whether from a family argument or for other personal reasons, you can choose to not include your partner or children as your beneficiaries. But there are certain rules that apply to this. Unlike some other online wills, with Kwil, you can name a person that you definitely don’t want to receive anything and say why, so that it can’t be contested when your will is executed.
Who are your Dependants?
Those individuals you are financially responsible for are your dependants. This could be anyone from your immediate family, as well as elderly parents, ex-partners, children (adopted or step), dependent family members, disabled dependants, and any other persons who have relied on your income.
If you choose not to name your dependants in your will, your wishes can be legally disputed by these individuals. For example, if you wished to exclude certain members of your immediate family from your estate, your wishes could be challenged in court. And therefore it is best to think wisely about the legal ramifications of this decision.
In any case, you’ll need someone reliable to carry out your wishes.
What is an executor?
An executor is the person named in the will whose responsibility it is to secure probate. This entails paying any debts or taxes that the deceased owes and the liquidation of the estate as per their last wishes.
Your executor should be someone you trust and who is organised, and will be able to cope with the time it takes and emotional pressure of this role. Because of this, it is best to think wisely about who you name, considering their profession, personal life, etc. Above all, you should speak to the person you intend to act as your executor before you name them in your will.
While people often simply name their partner as their executor, in what is already a stressful time, better choices can be close friends, adult children or siblings. You can also, and it is recommended, name a secondary executor to make the task easier.
Any gifts that you have allocated to someone who is under the age of 18 can stay with the executor until that person reaches adulthood, or alternatively they can be transferred for safekeeping to another parent, or guardian.
What is a guardian?
A guardian is someone named in your will who can legally assume responsibility for your children if they are under the age of 18 and no other parent is available. This is to give your children someone to house them and look after them when you’re gone.
Apart from those who already are named as parents, anyone can act as a guardian, but will only be called up if no surviving parent is available. Named guardians often include close relatives, unmarried partners, or friends. You can also appoint more than one guardian, such as naming a couple, or if you want to appoint different children to different individuals.
In the case of stepchildren, if you have parental responsibility, then you can appoint a guardian for them. But as guardians are only called up if there is no surviving parent, if one of their biological parents is still alive and still has parental responsibility, then the stepchild would usually go to them.
If you don’t have a will, and so don’t name a guardian for your children, and the other parent is not available, the state will allocate them a guardian. This is usually the closest relative. While this often is a fine solution, it is possible that they may not live close to the child’s school, friends etc., so it could be the case that you believe someone else would be a far more appropriate figure.
Again, a guardian should be someone who you trust and should be considered extremely wisely before you assign them this very demanding and potentially life-changing role. Their personal profile and own financial and familial circumstances should be evaluated thoroughly. This is as much toward ensuring they can cope as about ensuring your child’s quality of life doesn’t change too much in their care. Once more, they should be asked before you name them.
A will can ensure that your children are put with those individuals who you trust to look after them best. You can also name a guardian as the executor too, to ensure that they have a voice and stake in the financial decisions.
What is a Trustee?
A trustee is, like the named executor and guardian, someone you believe can adequately take on added responsibility. In this case, a trustee acts as a safekeeper of an item or asset, to be transferred to someone else later. For example, this could be money, a car, piece of jewellery or any precious item that you intend for your children, but who you would want only to inherit it once they reach adulthood.
Who can witness and sign a will?
The final individuals who should be named in your will are your witnesses. According to UK law, a will must be physically signed and witnessed by two independent adults. These individuals cannot be beneficiaries, or partners of beneficiaries. They must also demonstrate testamentary capacity. This means that they understand the value of the estate, their role in the making of the document, the familial relations of the person making it, and that they are not blind or incapacitated in a way that would undermine their testimony.
Once you have your carefully selected these individuals, you can write your will with Kwil.