Making a Will can often feel daunting however the reality is that a carefully thought out Will ensures that your assets are passed on to those you wish to inherit. When making or updating a Will in Scotland the best thing to do is to start with a blank piece of paper and consider the following:-
Executors – What are they and who should you appoint?
An Executor is someone who is appointed to ensure that your estate is wound up and distributed in accordance with the terms of your Will. Most people appoint a family member or friend that they trust to take on this role. However, an Executor does not have to be an individual and you could appoint a professional Trustee company should you prefer. This option can be quite useful for families or beneficiaries that do not always get on as the Executor would be impartial. We recommend appointing more than one Executor, or a substitute. Your Solicitor will need the full names and addresses of any Executors you want to appoint.
Who do you want to inherit your Estate?
An estate will either be distributed under the terms of an individual's Will or by intestate succession law. To ensure the beneficiaries you want to inherit do, it is very important that a valid Will is created and reviewed periodically, in particular when your circumstances change.
Before making a Will or updating an existing Will, it is important to consider what you would like to leave to whom. If you wish to leave specific items (such as jewellery, furniture, ornaments etc) or sums of money to people, a good starting point is to make a list of the item or sum of money and who it is to go to.
Once you have thought about whether you want any specific items or sums of money to go to individuals or charities, it is time to think about who you would like to inherit the remainder of your estate. In Scots Law, this is called the "residue" of your estate. This is the remainder of your entire estate after the deductions of any debts and specific bequests.
When making your list or thinking about the residue of your estate, don't forget to note down the full names and addresses of your beneficiaries as this will be required by your Solicitor.
If you have children under the age of 16, do you want to include a Guardianship clause in your Will?
If you have children under the age of 16, it may be worth considering who you would like to look after them should both of their parents not survive. A Guardianship clause in a Will, whilst not binding on any Court, can provide a good starting point should that decision ever need to be made.
You can make your funeral instructions as simple or as detailed as you wish in your Will. You also don’t have to include funeral wishes. However, it is often helpful guidance for your Executors (and/or family). We have found that when the deceased leaves funeral wishes in their Will, it comes as a great source of comfort to those left behind. They are able to arrange the funeral as detailed without having to worry about whether they are doing the right thing. Although no-one likes to think or discuss issues such as this, it is worth doing!
Whilst you are making your list as to who you would like to inherit, it is often useful to list all of your assets and to consider the value of your estate. If your estate is over the Inheritance Tax threshold, it would be worth speaking to your Solicitor about what this will mean for your estate and your beneficiaries and also whether there is anything you can do to mitigate inheritance tax.