You will save time and money by preparing a useful list of information to discuss with your solicitor or will writer when you decide to make your will.
This is the list to guide you:
What you own
List your assets - property, cars, possessions, stocks and shares, pensions, insurance policies, businesses you own or part own. Include where these assets are, including bank accounts.
Family and other dependents
List family members and their status. Include details of previous marriages. Name those who depend on you financially.
Who gets what
How you want to divide your estate between family, friends and charities. Do you want your assets sold and the money raised put into your estate, or do you want to bequeath them to individuals or organisations? Less valuable possessions, known as 'chattels' are usually covered in a letter of wishes.
Trusts and other conditions
Consider setting up a trust. Decide on the conditions do 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.
Draft a statement making clear your wish to donate your organs or your body for medical research. Name the person responsible for ensuring this wish is carried out if you are not on the NHS donor register, or have not filled in consent forms from the appropriate teaching hospital.
Letter of wishes
The letter of wishes enables you to list who you want to receive those items of limited financial worth but of sentimental value. It can also cover details such as funeral wishes and information necessary at the time of your death.
Name the person, or people, you want to appoint as the executors of your will. If you are considering appointing your solicitor as your executor or joint executor, ask him/her to quote for this service. Probate, the legal term for handling the estate of a deceased person, requires a specialist in family law, so ensure your solicitor is appropriate, or that the law firm has probate specialists to act as your executor.
Where it should be kept
Your solicitor or will writer should keep the original signed will.
Your executor(s) – if other than the solicitor – should be told the contact details of the will writer or solicitor who has your will.
As a fall back, when your will has been correctly signed, ask your solicitor to make a digital copy and send it to you as an attachment to an email so you can have a copy.