Making a Will
Your will should be a flexible document, so that if circumstances change through the death of
an executor or a beneficiary or the disposal of a particular item of property, it is not necessary to change your will. These problems can be easily avoided by the appointment of more than one executor.
- • having substitutional beneficiaries
- • making general as opposed to specific bequests. e.g. Don’t say; “I leave my house at
52 Dollis Road to my son.” Far better to say; “I leave my main residence at the date of
my death to my son.”
A will normally contains the following components:
- • name of person making it (“the testator”)
- • details of executors
- • testamentary guardians if appropriate
- • any directions as to your funeral
- • specific gifts
- • who is to receive your residuary estate (“residuary beneficiaries”)
- • substitutional beneficiaries
- • trust provisions for minor beneficiaries
- • signature of testator and witnesses
Executors and testamentary guardians
Your executors are responsible for dealing with your financial affairs after your death. The purpose of testamentary guardians is to have some one who will care for any of your children who are minors (under the age of 18) after the death of yourself and your spouse. Those suitable to look after your money may not always be the same as those most suited to look after your children and visa versa.
Generally this will be individual items such as “all my jewellery” or “a gift of £1,000”. It is better to dispose of large parts of your estate in the gift of residue.
This is a ‘sweeping up’ clause whereby any of your estate not specifically disposed of (“the residue”) is dealt with. In most cases testators deal with the bulk of their estate in this manner. Without such a clause you may leave some of your property un-disposed of, this is known as a partial intestacy. If your residuary estate is being divided amongst several people, care needs to be taken to over the drafting of this clause to prevent a partial intestacy arising should one of the beneficiaries die before you.
If your residuary estate is left to a single person then it is a good idea to name a substitute in case the original beneficiary dies before you.
Trust provisions for minors
We take the view that it is a bad idea to allow children to inherit a large amount of money at an early age as they will probably spend it. It is far better to keep a residuary estate, which is passing to children, in trust until they reach 21 or 25. These trusts are normally drawn so funds can be used for the child’s maintenance and schooling and also for the purchase of property but the money cannot be squandered.