You have started your first steps towards making a Will, but you don’t know where to go next? Don’t let that stop you!
This Top 5 List is a conversation starter between you and your family. It is the seed planted that you need to get something down on paper and made official before life pulls the rug out from under you.
Sit down with your partner or loved one to have a back and forth over a cuppa or a glass of wine. Make lists, flow charts, or even just sticky notes.
This is a great opportunity to meditate on what you value in your life and how you want to see it protected if you were to pass away.
If not knowing where to start is holding you back, this is where you begin.
Pick Your Executors/Trustees
This should be a person that you trust to make financial arrangements and resolve all outstanding issues with your Will.
It’s not choosing your best mate to take care of your things. It should be about choosing the person that you trust to make sure that your Will is seen through the way you would want it to be.
Try listing out your most responsible family member or friend. They might be a runner up for guardianship! You should be encouraged to choose someone who isn’t a guardian to be your executor if you think it’s going to be too much for one person to handle.
Make sure that you discuss the executor responsibly with them before you sign them up for a job they might not want!
This is the “who gets what” section of your Will.
You can get really specific about who gets your vintage vinyl collection or who gets that jewelry that isn’t paste.
It can also be very general, naming one beneficiary for all your assets.
You can even specify the age at which your children inherit (no 18-year-old needs access to the amounts saved in your pension).
By having a vague outline of what you want to have happen to your things, you can confidently speak to a solicitor about how you want your earthly possessions distributed after you are gone.
You don’t necessarily have to have your funeral all planned out in your Will, but some people have an opinion about what happens to their bodies after their death. Cremation, burial, compacted into a diamond? (Yep, that’s an option.)
You just have to make clear what you want, or don’t want, to happen to your body.
Protecting Inheritors with Will Trusts
Talk to your partner about how you want your assets distributed and who should benefit from your assets. Back that conversation up by adding strong-as-steel Will Trusts to your Will. This can allow you to protect your estate from being eaten up by care costs, probate expenses, or poor decisions by family members, and keep whole what you want to leave for your kids. See Trust Wills.
If you have kids that are not adults yet, you need to have a serious and honest conversation about where you want them to live if they have no surviving parents.
This can be a hard conversation to have, particularly if there is some animosity between family members.
Being honest about your priorities will help you not only narrow down your choices, but help you and your parenting partner have a good discussion about what you value in your own parenting strategy. BONUS!
In the end, when choosing a guardian, it is not about if you offend someone or if you are not taking their feelings into consideration. It is about the welfare of your children and their future.
Heads up: GODPARENTS, while recognized by religious organizations, are not legal guardians unless they are so named in the Will. Already good in that department? You just have to name them.
Age and Health
Are Nana and Pop up for the task? It’s one thing for them to say, “Yes, of course”. It’s another thing to think about them managing teenagers and a wobbly hip. Make sure that your loving guardians are not only willing…but also physically able.
Your best friend from uni has always said that she would take your kids in if anything ever happened to you, but she travels for her career and LOVES IT.
Is she going to be able to put the brakes on her dreams to bring your kids up?
Your brother might be an amazing uncle, but is he going to be able to take on your kids when he still plays in the garage band he started in his 20’s?
The lifestyle of your intended guardians needs to be taken into consideration before you propose guardianship to them. Make sure it’s a match suitable for your kids AND the guardian.
You can make a provision for guardianship for your pets as well, not just your kids. This is definitely a conversation you need to have in advance with whoever you want to take care of your pet. Please don’t just nominate them and hope for the best!
The great thing is that you can also leave a financial provision for care of your pet from your estate as well…just like with the kids.
If you do not name someone to take care of your furry (or scaly…or feathered) friend, they could end up in shelter, bewildered and alone. Don’t let that happen.
Your sister is an amazing mum of three.
Can she afford to take on your children as well? While she might hesitate to say no, it might be too much for her to practically take on while maintaining the standard of living she wants for her family.
Try not to put someone you love in the position of having to say “no”, not because they don’t love your kids, but because they just cannot afford it.
Religious & Moral Match-up
Do you want your kids raised in a particular religion? Without religion?
Are politics important to you? What kind of morals can your kids count on in your home? The truth is, you are probably not going to find anyone who 100% matches what you believe or how your morals play out in parenting.
But you can get close.
In the end, choosing a guardian is likely to be the most difficult part of writing your Will. You don’t want to offend anyone by not choosing them. Then again, what if the person you want says, “No, thank you”?
In the end YOU are the perfect fit for your family. But you need to come up with a second choice…or the courts will do it for you.
So now you know what you need to be prepared to talk about when you are ready to set up your Will and make it official.
Will planning does not have to be a grim affair. It can actually be relationship affirming and allow you to take stock in what you value as an individual and as a member of your family, large or small.
Have more questions? That is what we are here for. At Olive Tree Law we help our clients plan about what they spent their lives building.
Give us a bell 01777 712733 or send us an email. We are happy to answer your questions.