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Reasons to make a Will

Why making a Will is important

3 Oct 2022

By Delia Orme

There are several compelling reasons to make a Will, but fundamentally it’s a formal way to record your intentions and wishes and to avoid leaving important decisions or choices to others after your death

Essential reasons

  • to avoid your assets being distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules which could mean, for instance, your spouse not inheriting all your estate
  • to ensure that those you wish to inherit your assets on your death do receive them
  • to nominate executors of your choice to deal with the distribution of your estate in the certain knowledge that they will comply with your wishes
  • to nominate your preferred guardians of your children to avoid disagreements or family upsets
  • make small personal gifts
  • to take advantage of tax saving strategies

Other reasons that may apply (depending on individual circumstances)

  • to explain why a possible beneficiary is being excluded
  • to ensure the continuation of a family business
  • to ensure that ‘first’ and ‘second’ families are treated fairly
  • to reflect lifetime rearrangement of assets
  • to give specific guidance to executors

Things to consider

It’s a good idea to consider issues that will come up during discussions on why you should make your Will, and why you should put provisions into it.

Funeral arrangements

You can specify whether you want your body buried or cremated and if you’d like a religious or humanist service. You can also state whether you are willing for your body to be used for medical research. You may have other wishes to be recorded here.


This is the person you appoint to safeguard your possessions, pay debts and ensure your instructions in your Will are carried out. An Executor can be anyone, even a beneficiary, over 18 years of age. If you are leaving everything to one person, it is usually convenient to make them the only Executor.

With more complicated estates, and particularly where children are involved, it is advisable to have at least two Executors, any more than that can be unwieldy when decisions need to be made. In some cases (eg where matters are likely to be complicated or where there may be family difficulties and you need an objective viewpoint) it can be advisable to appoint professional executors.


If you are a parent of minors this would usually be applicable if their other parent dies before you. It will be necessary to appoint someone for the day-to-day care of your children under 18 years of age. It is possible to appoint more than one person e.g. a sibling and their spouse, but this could be difficult if, say, they were to divorce. It would also be prudent to consider making a fund available to the guardian(s) to cover increased expenditure.


You are able to leave sums of money or specific gifts in your Will. You can leave them, if they belong solely to you, without difficulty. However, before doing so you may need to consider the needs of a surviving spouse or civil partner. In such a situation you will need to make some provision, such as a life interest to your survivor. This is complex and will require input from your professional advisor.

Remember that if you leave something to your surviving spouse in the belief that they will honour your wishes to leave a legacy, they are not legally obliged to do so.

If the gift (particularly of money) is to children, you will have to decide at which age they will be able to fully enjoy it. They may be legally entitled to the income, or use of the asset, at age 18, but the capital may be retained until a later age.

Letter of Wishes

If you are making gifts of specific items such as furniture and jewellery, it may be worth considering a ‘letter of wishes’.

In your Will you give all the items to one named person but express the hope that he or she will distribute the items in accordance with any list of beneficiaries and items you may leave at your death. This is a very flexible arrangement. You can then change the list at any time without the legal formalities and expense of a new Will.


This is what is left of your estate after payment of debts, legacies, any Inheritance Tax, and legal fees. Jointly owned assets are not included because they usually pass automatically to the other joint owner(s).

You must specify who is to inherit the residue, and in what proportions. You should also state what should happen to the residue if any of the beneficiaries die before you. If children are to benefit, you can specify the age at which they become entitled.

Some other important things to remember

If you die without making a new Will your estate will pass to a list of your relatives specified by law (under the intestacy rules).  You can find out here who is entitled to a share of a person’s assets if they die without making a will

On marriage (or remarriage), your old Will is automatically revoked and has no effect.

On divorce, any gift in your old Will to your ex-spouse is cancelled as is his or her appointment as Executor, but the rest of the Will stands. This can create problems and it is therefore better to make a new Will once the divorce is final.

If you do not make any provision for a spouse or civil partner, former spouse, or child, they could possibly claim against your estate. If this applies to you, you should speak to your professional advisor when drafting your Will.

Our Private Client Advisory Team discuss Will planning as part of overall strategic tax planning. This ensures that you are aware of how to structure your wishes and integrate them into your long term personal tax planning. Our team can draft a Will on your behalf, or work with your professional advisors to make sure your needs are met.

Please contact us for further advice.

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