Those appointed to administer an estate where there is no will or executor, often solicitors.
An individual or organisation who will receive a gift in your Will.
An alteration or addition to your Will. Simple additions or amendments can be easily made by Codicil.
Chattels and movables
Your possessions, including your furniture and car.
All your possessions at the time of your death, including money and property.
The person who is appointed by you to make sure the instructions in your Will are carried out. An Executor can also be a beneficiary.
Inheritance tax (IHT)
The tax levied on your estate. (This includes the market value of your house when you die).
Intestate and intestacy (partial intestacy).
You are said to be intestate if you die without making a Will. Intestacy is the name for this situation. Partial intestacy occurs if there is a valid Will but it does not say how all the deceased assets should be distributed.
A gift left to a person or organisation in your Will.
A two-stage form of legacy gift in which the first beneficiary is given, for example, the use of your house or the interest on your bank or building society account during their lifetime. After their death, the house or capital passes to a second beneficiary named by you in your Will. Quite often a charity is the second beneficiary.
A pecuniary legacy specifies a sum of money.
Power of attorney
A legal document which authorises one or more people to handle another person's financial affairs (including property, shares, money, etc.), either generally or in relation to specific items.
The legal proceedure to decide whether you left a valid Will.
The ‘residue’ of an estate is what is left after all other bequests, taxes and debts have been paid. A residuary gift generally gives the greatest benefit to Landmark as its value increases with the value of your estate. Many people are not aware that you can even leave just 1%.
If you decide to leave all or part (even a 1% share) of the residue to Landmark, you should take your solicitor’s advice on how to draft your Will to ensure that tax exemptions are applied advantageously to your estate as a whole.
The sum that is left from your estate when all debts, charges and gifts have been deducted.
A reversionary legacy covers those occasions when you provide for your spouse or friend for their lifetime, giving them the use of a home or other asset, with the capital passing, after their death, to your selected beneficiary.
This type of legacy relates to a particular item such as stocks and shares, proceeds of a life insurance policy, property, furniture, jewellery and the like, or a collection of items such as books.
Testator or testatrix
The person who is making the Will.
A person who signs your Will in your presence, who must not be a beneficiary.
Preparatory steps before making your Will
1. Assess the value of your estate
Prepare a list of your assets (e.g. property, personal possessions) and your liabilities (e.g. mortgage, loans) plus anything which belongs to your jointly with another person. This will help your adviser establish whether your estate may be liable to Inheritance Tax.
2. Who would you like to benefit
Establish the names and address of family, friends, charities and other organisations who you wish to include in your Will.
3. Seek professional advice
It is advisable to consult a solicitor or other professional adviser who will give you personal, confidential guidance and advice specifically relating to your own circumstances.
4. Executors and Witnesses
An Executor ensures that your wishes are carried out in accordance with your Will and it does not matter if they are also beneficiaries of your Will. You can appoint professional advisers, such as a solicitor, although they will charge a fee. Your will should be signed in the presence of two witnesses (they cannot be beneficiaries of your Will) and your solicitor or adviser can usually make arrangements for this to be carried out.
5. Inheritance Tax
Currently, the first part of any estate is free from Inheritance Tax (IHT), although the threshold at which tax starts is liable to change. At present anything given to a legal spouse (including those joined under a registered Civil Partnership) or a registered charity is absolutely free of IHT and including these in your will may help reduce the liability to tax. If you choose to leave 10% or more of your taxable estate to charity the remaining taxable estate benefits from a reduced rate of tax (36%) rather than the standard rate (40 %).
Your solicitor or adviser will be able to suggest the most tax efficient planning methods in your own particular circumstances.
6. Keeping your Will up to date and in a safe place
It is important to keep a will up to date and periodical reviews are recommended, especially if personal or financial circumstances change. It is good practice to leave your original Will with your solicitor or your bank, with a copy at home. Tell your Executors where the Will can be found or you may like to consider giving them a copy.