Counting up your assets one of practicalities of making a will

Do your home work first and make sure, once the will is drafted, that you sign it. Every adult should make a will, and here are some practical tips to help you get started.

Even if you do not have a lot of property or money you should make a will. But making the effort can seem overwhelming, and it is hard to know where to start.

When you are considering making your will, it is quite natural to feel some confusion about how to go about beginning to put it together.

Here are some points of advice to help you through it: Prepare a list of all of your assets, and details as to where they are located.

You should list:

  • Assets in your sole name.
  • n Assets that you own with someone else.
  • Assets that might come to you in the future.
  • Debts or mortgages.
  • Business interests and partnerships.
  • Shareholdings, bank accounts, life policies, post office savings accounts, credit unions accounts.
  • Property that you own solely or jointly abroad (if you have made a will in a different country, it is very important to tell your solicitor).
  • Personal items, like jewellery, art. or furniture
  • Farm entitlements, farm machinery, bloodstock and jeeps or cars.
  • If you own property with someone else, it is important to know whether you hold the asset as joint tenants or tenants in common.

These are two separate legal terms which refer to how property is owned and dealt with after the death of one of the owners.

Prepare a list of your immediate family members, and how and where they can be contacted.

Consider who you would wish to appoint as the executor/executrix of your will. This is the person who will ensure that the instructions set out in your will are carried out in full.

Consider how you wish to divide your estate between your family, dependents and friends.

You should be aware that if you are married, your spouse has a legal right share to half of your estate, where there are no children.

Where there are children, your spouse has an entitlement to one third of your estate.

If you have children under the age of 18 years, you should consider how you would want your children to be cared for, and whom you would appoint as their guardians.

It may also be advisable to have assets which you would intend leaving to your children placed in a trust for their benefit, until they reach a certain age as determined by you. The age they benefit from a trust does not have to be 18, it can be any age.

If you intend to utilise a trust, then two trustees at a minimum would have to be appointed. Always ask guardians for their consent, out of courtesy, before appointing them in your will.

Find out where your title deeds are located, and tell your solicitor the location.

It can be helpful to prepare a list of banks, credit unions, post offices, life insurance companies, etc, where you hold accounts and investments, and a list of the relevant account number and policy numbers, and to give these lists to your solicitor. Make sure, once the will is drafted, that you actually sign it.

Believe it or not, forgetting to sign happens more often than people would think. People often give instructions for their will to be drafted, but never get round to signing.

It is not valid until it is correctly executed and witnessed. Tell someone where you have made your will, usually your executor or executor, so they know where to find it after you have passed on.

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