Ways of giving in your Will
A specific gift is a gift of a specific item such as a house or a car. A pecuniary gift is a gift of cash e.g., £10,000 to my cousin Joe. A residual gift is a share of what’s left over after debts, funeral expenses, inheritance tax (if any), administration expenses and pecuniary and specific gifts have been paid e.g., all the rest I leave to my wife etc.,. Residual gifts can be expressed either as percentages (20%) or as fractions (one fifth). Whilst you make your Will today it has effect only when you die and your circumstances are likely to have changed perhaps substantially by that date. Accordingly you need to be very careful as to how pecuniary and residual gifts interact. For example £10,000 (pecuniary) to each of my five children and the residue to my wife may seem fine whilst you have assets of £312,000 at the date of making your Will. However if by your death you only have assets of £60,000 your wife would only receive less than £10,000 after debts and expenses. This could be unfair and cause hardship. Thus you should assume this is your last Will, you may not get around to making another Will or may not be able to do so, and you should have regard in preparing your Will for possible future changes in the value of your assets and your circumstances. Accordingly percentage or fraction gifts may be considered a good way of maintaining proportionality and fairness in your Will as time passes.
You should, of course, also regularly review your Will in the future to make sure it still reflects your wishes.