Will Preparation Checklist
The following checklist can help to ensure that you have detailed information of your assets for your Will. When dealing with your solicitor or will writer this information will save you time and money in drawing up your Will.
- Your full name
- Any former name(s) or alias(es)
- Age (for purposes of tax and investment advice)
- Married/co-habiting/civil partner?
- Children/Step children? Full names and ages
What Assets You Own
Make a complete list of all your assets. This should include property, cars, possessions, stocks and shares, bank and building society accounts, pensions, insurance policies, digital assets and any businesses you own or part own:
- Your home
- Garage / Storage
- Holiday home (in the UK or abroad)
- Land e.g. a field or building plot
- Property that might be inherited
- Property which you let to others
You should list those that are held solely by you or jointly with someone else. You should include the name of the organisation and contact details, policy or account number(s). With shares the number that are held, certificate number if in paper form and where the physical share certificates are located.
- Current Account(s)
- Insurance Policies – including whether or not you have instructed the Insurance Company to benefit a particular person on your death
- Life Policies
- National Savings
- Premium Bonds
- Pre-paid Funeral Plans
- Savings Account(s)
- Savings Certificates
- Unit Trusts
- Other e.g. cash in a safe
These would include such items as::
- Collectible items e.g. stamp collection
- Musical instruments
- Online assets e.g. music downloads, e-books, photos etc., Sometimes these are not transferable on death. You should check with the terms and conditions of the online organisation holding the assets.
- Home contents such as furniture, clothes and electrical appliances
- Vehicles e.g. cars & bicycles
Include any debts you currently have. These will reduce the value of your estate. Items to include are:
- Credit/Debit cards
- Leases e.g. for vehicles
These are related to trading or to your business in some way. They are owned by you or by the business partnership. Items to include are:
- fixtures and fittings
- goodwill of the business as this can have a financial value
- land and buildings used as business premises (shop, office, factory or workshop
- plant and machinery
- registered domain names
- registered trade marks
- shares in a company
You should specify whether these business assets are solely or jointly held, its value and your share in it. If you are the owner or part owner of a business you need to ensure you consider what will happen to your share on death. This should be included in your Will. You should seek tax advice when drawing up your will as taxation could well apply to your business assets.
In today’s digital world we all have an increasing number of digital assets. From social media accounts, domain names, photos and media libraries online, digital music, ebooks and mail accounts to name but a few. Increasingly some accounts such as share dealing may only exist online.
The issue with digital assets is that when someone passes away unless there has been pre-planning access to these digital assets can be locked or lost. It will be down to the executors of the estate or family members to try to get access. This can be difficult if there is no clear authority to access the accounts, especially if they are accounts that are only available online. This can result in accounts either being frozen or access completely denied. This can cause immense difficulties if, for example you want to be able to download photos or videos from a site. What needs to be considered regarding Digital Assets and how they can be safeguarded can be found here.
Locations of your assets
The locations of all your assets should also be provided. Some accounts such as share dealing may only be available online or through a smart device. So you will need to provide details as to how these can be found and accessed (app name, site or company name, user name and passwords). See Digital Assets
Value of Your Property
You may need to get a professional valuation e.g. from a local estate agent for a house, or from a broker for stocks and shares, a jewellers for jewellery and so forth. Use a spreadsheet to record this information as this will help in drawing up your will.
Beneficiaries-Who gets What
Name and provide contact details, including address for all the people who you would like to benefit from your Will. Ensure that you also name all dependents, family members and their status. Include details of previous marriages. List all dependants. Anyone who is financially dependent on you can challenge the Will in Court if they feel that you have not provided properly for them. Decide how you want to divide your estate between family, friends and/or charities.
If you have any children who are under 18 you can appoint Guardians to look after them in the event of your death. You should think about this carefully, particularly if your children are very young. You may also wish to think about who the guardians should be if for some reason your first choice guardians are no longer able to do this. It may be helpful to think about how you provide financially for your children for example where they would live.
Many people want to make gifts of money or special items (such as a piece of jewellery), which are known as ‘legacies’. Once the legacies have been taken out of your Estate, this leaves the ‘residue’ which is then distributed. It is important that you are clear about what the gift is and the reason you have left it. If you think it is particularly valuable or may cause a dispute, document your reason why as this can help if there is any challenge. You should record whether you have made any substantial gifts within the last seven years. This would is required for inheritance tax purposes.
Outline the purpose of the trust, the beneficiary (or beneficiaries), and the details of the trustees. Setting up trusts can help to minimise inheritance tax but you should consult a solicitor to ensure that these are set up correctly.
Outline conditions you want to place on your bequests. For example that a young person must reach a certain age before having access to money or a possession.
Medical Research – Body and Organs
If you want to leave your body for medical research or donate organs, inform your will writer. However, bear in mind that the will is often read sometime after the death, by which time it may be too late to donate your organs. You should include such information in your Letter of Wishes.