Your guide to key questions on Wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney
- We all die
- Your death impacts on your family emotionally & financially
- Disputes can arise in relation to your financial assets or death benefit entitlements
- If you have children under 18 trust & guardianship conflict issues can arise
- You can make a decision about how want your assets, money & effects distributed
- You owe it to your family & those you cherish to make a Will
- Making a Will is one of the best gifts you can make
- It’s particularly important to make a Will if you:-
- Your assets will be distributed under the laws of survivorship or intestacy
- What you have may not go to those you would want to benefit
- Not making a Will could mean:
- Certain loved ones, such as unmarried partners or stepchildren are not provided for;
- Your partner has to move out of your shared home;
- No one looks after your property or financial affairs while the Court appoints an administrator – this could lead to mounting debts and unnecessary stress for your loved ones
- A specific bequest is a gift of a chattel (eg a car, painting or jewellery) to an individual or couple;
- A residual chattels bequest is a gift of whatever chattels have not been given to others;
- A pecuniary bequest is a gift of a sum of money (eg £1,000);
- A charitable pecuniary bequest is a gift of money to a church or charity;
- A residual bequest is a gift of a share of what’s left after all other gifts;
- The percentages of all the residual bequests should add up to 100%; The recipients of bequests (gifts) in your Will are called beneficiaries.
The key things to consider are:-
- What property and assets do you own?
- Who are your beneficiaries and what inheritance do you want to leave them?
- Who will be the executor(s) of your estate?
- Follow our information links in these FAQs and as you complete the questionnaire. See Reciprocal/ Mirror Wills for couples, Ways of giving in your Will, Assets Jointly Owned, Real Property and Joint Tenants – Tenants in Common
Trusts have a variety of purposes in Wills; some common examples of which are:-
- Wills which incorporate a trust leaving a tenant in common half share of a house to a spouse, civil partner or partner for their lifetime or until they go into care & then to children can preserve half the value of the property for the children and ensure that the entire value of the property is not used up in nursing home fees – see Trust Wills and Tenants in Common;
- A house, or a tenant in common half share of a house, can be left in trust for the lifetime of a spouse, civil partner or partner & then to children of an earlier relationship on the death of the spouse, civil partner or partner;
- Couples with children under 18 often leave everything to each other but also provide that if both die before the children reach 18, or another specified age, trusts are created to provide for the children until they reach the specified age;
- Trusts can also be created for adults or children with disabilities, business management during beneficiaries minority and many other purposes;
- Trusts can also be used for tax planning. See Ending of Trusts.
Executors are responsible persons who carry out the wishes expressed in your Will and wind up your affairs normally within a year of death. Trustees are responsible for the investment of money or management of assets until children attain an age between 18 and 25. There must be at least two trustees. Executors and trustees are almost always the same persons. An executor or trustee who is indolent, imprudent, lacking in diligence, negligent or wilful can negatively affect the assets your family will inherit. You should thus chose your executors and trustees wisely. They can be a member of your family, a relative or a friend. If your estate is relatively modest and the wishes in your Will relatively simple your spouse or civil partner, a member of your family, a relative or a family friend would ordinarily be the correct appointment. Only one executor is necessary although more than one is fine. If trusts for minor children or others are being created you need a minimum two trustees. Solicitors are often asked to be additional independent executors and trustees. For more information see the powers of executors and trustees, executors and trustees for children’s trusts, solicitor executors and trustees and Guardians
You can use your Will to record any special wishes you’d like for your funeral, including what you want to happen to your body. See Burial or Cremation Requests.
You can exclude people from your Will. However if you exclude a dependant the dependant may be able to claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) (NI) Order 1979. See Disabled Dependant.
- Assets passing on death or by gift between spouses or civil partners are exempt to Inheritance Tax;
- Nil Rate Band (Personal Allowance) - Each person has a personal allowance of £325,000;
- Residential Nil Rate Band - If your estate is below £2m an additional allowance of up to £175,000 is available if you own your home which you are leaving to descendants;
- Each spouse or civil partner is entitled to the same allowances;
- Unused spouse or civil partners allowances pass on death to the surviving spouse or civil partner;
- Thus a couple with a home worth more than £350,000 can, on the second death, leave assets to their children worth £1m without Inheritance Tax liability;
- There are also annual gifting allowances of £3,000 per annum which can be utilised and a de minimis gifts allowance of £250 or below;
If you have property in more than one country it’s important to plan appropriately. You should make sure that your Northern Ireland Will deals effectively with your UK assets while ensuring your assets outside the UK are structured to work together with your Northern Ireland Will to minimise your estate’s exposure to tax. See Foreign Assets.
If you are a business owner or shareholder in a private company, it’s important to consider how you want to pass your interests on. When you draft your Will, you should also address issues such as:
- Shareholder or partnership options
- Changing the articles of association for the company to enable the terms of your Will to be implemented
- Introducing new partners or shareholders from within your family (possibly with different share classes or using a trust to hold their shares or interest).
When you make a Will you should also consider making an Enduring Power of Attorney in case you lose mental capacity either through accident or illness in later life. You can appoint an attorney to make decisions on your behalf about your finances. You have to make an Enduring Power of Attorney when you have mental capacity (you can’t make it after you lose mental capacity) so making an Enduring Power of Attorney when you are making your Will makes sense.
Yes we will store your original Will free of charge in our dedicated storage facility and provide you with a copy (in a copy Will envelope) and an electronic pdf copy for your records.
- Wilson Nesbitt is a leading Northern Ireland law firm with considerable expertise in the area of Wills and estates. We’ve helped thousands of clients prepare Wills and plan their estate to make sure it’s in line with their wishes.
- We pride ourselves on providing clear advice in plain language. With your Will you’ll receive a guide on the signing process
- Our team is always on hand to discuss any questions you might have