A Will should name at least one executor. An executor is a responsible person who will see that your wishes, as expressed in your Will, are carried out and who will administer your estate until it is properly distributed.
We can assist the executor in their duties, which may include paying debts, selling property and distributing the estate in terms of the Will. If any claims against the estate are made during this process, we can advise the executor.
An executor can be named as a beneficiary in your Will and you can direct that your executor should get paid for the work they do. You should give some thought to this even if your executor is a friend or relative, as administering an estate can involve a lot of work. A person named as an executor can also witness your Will but this might effect any gift you leave that person. This does not apply to payment for services as an executor.
Your will should provide for payment of your liabilities such as mortgages, overdrafts and debts.
It should make adequate provision for your dependents (partners, children, adult children not able to look after themselves and, sometimes parents). If it doesn’t, they may be able to make a claim on your estate.
A gift to one of your children who dies before you will pass automatically to their child (that is, your grandchild) unless your will says otherwise.
Your Will should say who you want to inherit your personal possessions as well as your general assets. Some people make a provision in their Will asking the executor to observe any list they leave about who is to receive particular less valuable items. If this is handled properly, you may be able to update it without changing your Will.
Any property you own as joint tenants automatically becomes the property of the surviving partner with whom you own it, unless there is an agreement otherwise (subject to rules in the Property (Relationships) Act). Your Will does not apply to any property held that way.
You may own property with others in equal or unequal shares. On your death, your share becomes part of the assets in your estate and is dealt with as your Will directs.
Your Will can name preferred guardians of your children.
You can set out any specific funeral arrangements that you want, though those organising your funeral are not legally bound to follow those instructions.
Your Will can also include a bequest or a gift to charity. This might be a specific gift, such as an amount of money or shares or a residue gift. That is, part of anything that is left of the estate after specific gifts.
You can give directions as to how a business you own should be dealt with when you die.