Wills Legal Guide - Part 2

By Lenore Rice

In the first section of our Wills Legal Guide, we explored the various reasons for writing a Will, including what happens to your assets and to your beneficiaries if you die without leaving a WIll.

In this part of our Guide, we will look at the initial steps you can take when deciding to write a Will, such as listing your beneficiaries and estimating the value of your assets.

Preliminary steps in writing a Will

So, you’ve decided to take the next step in planning for your future, and you really must be commended for doing so.

It is regularly estimated that some 70% of adults in Northern Ireland do not have a Will in place, and assume that the inheritance will just sort of work itself out, so congratulations in being in the prepared minority.

The question is: where do you start when writing a Will?

Make a list of beneficiaries

While creating a Will is really rather straightforward, it can seem a little daunting in the beginning. A good first step is to simply make a list of everyone that would like to benefit from your estate.

These are called your beneficiaries, and will receive assets and inheritance as per the instruction laid down in your Will.

You might include:

  • Your spouse or civil partner
  • Your children
  • Other family members
  • Your friends
  • Charities

Make a list of your assets and estimate what they’re worth

Next come the things which you would like to pass on.

To make things easier in the beginning, you can start with the assets that are easiest to value, such as:

  • Savings
  • Jewellery
  • Family heirlooms 

Then move on to the things which can fluctuate or vary in value, as these will be much more difficult to estimate exactly.

These can include:

  • Your pension – although you should check the specific terms of your pension to confirm that you can leave it in your Will
  • Your business, if you own or part-own one
  • Any stock market investments that you may have - such as shares, bonds, or funds.
  • Any property that you own – including your house, any investment properties, land, or even a parking space. Remember to account for the value of any debts used as security against your property.

Finally, you should think about any items with particular sentimental value which you would like to leave to specific people.

In the next section of our WIlls Legal Guide, we shall explore some of the questions that you should be sure to ask yourself while writing your Will, as well as the how to make sure your Will is legally valid.