Five essential things to include in your Will

We’ve talked previously about the need to have a legally recognised and up-to-date Will, and the consequences of dying intestate, but we know drawing up a Will is daunting and easy to put off.

In this blog, we outline the top five essential things to put in your Will. Each point also includes tips to help you prepare for a Will-writing appointment. Next month, we’ll tell you all about executors and their roles, so look out for that.

Our top five things to include in your Will are:

  • Who do you want to benefit from your assets and property?
  • Do you have any debts?
  • Who will look after your children or pets?
  • Do you have any requests for your funeral?
  • Would you like any charities and good causes to benefit?

Who do you want to benefit from your assets and property?

In your Will, you need to state who you want to receive your assets and property when you die. Assets can include money in accounts, savings, pensions, shares, insurance policies, etc. Property can be valuable items such as houses and cars, or sentimental items such as wedding rings or things which have been passed down through the family.

It’s important to go into detail and ensure everything is covered, and that your Will is updated as your circumstances change. Even the closest families can argue over who gets what, so you need to put everything in writing to minimise disputes.

To prepare for your Will-writing appointment, you need to gather some documents. These include property deeds, insurance policies, share certificates, bank account details and other information relating to your assets. Also, list specific items that you want people to inherit. Remember, promising someone verbally they can have an item isn’t a legally recognised way of distributing your estate, so others may contest your wishes if they’re not specified in your Will.

Do you have any debts?

Debts, including mortgages and car finance, are paid off using money in your estate when you die. In the UK, debts aren’t passed onto surviving family members unless they’ve acted as a guarantor or co-signatory of the debt. If your estate can’t cover the outstanding money owed, debts will be paid in priority order and any remaining will be written off. If your estate is more than the total amount of money you owe, it will be distributed as per the instructions in your Will.

To prepare for your Will-writing appointment, gather documents relating to the above, list how much is owed and to whom, and how and when you are paying them off.

Who will look after your children or pets?

You need to specify who will have parental responsibility for children under 18 (who are classed as minors) in case there is ever a scenario where there are no surviving parents. Your named person or people, known as testamentary guardians, will have the same rights and responsibilities as a parent.

To prepare for your Will-writing appointment, think carefully about who you would like to be responsible for your child or children’s upbringing. You can prepare a Letter of Wishes which is not legally binding but can be placed with your Will to help guide your testamentary guardians. You can include your hopes for living arrangements, education and more.

You should also include pets in your Will in a similar way as above to help ensure they find a loving home and are looked after when you die. You can name someone to rehome them and allocate money for their care from your estate.

Do you have any requests for your funeral?

We know how hard it is to think about your funeral but, if you have specific wishes, it’s essential to include them in your Will. For example, you can state whether you want to be buried or cremated, have a ceremony or wake in a particular place, include some of your favourite music or ask everyone to dress in bright colours. Some people opt not to have a funeral at all.

To prepare for your Will-writing appointment, consider what you would like your funeral to be like. You may need to research costs (keeping in mind that they are likely to rise) and consider how they will be met.

Would you like any charities and good causes to benefit?

There are so many UK charities in need of financial support, and leaving a gift in your Will is an excellent way of giving to a cause you care about. Leaving a legacy gift may also have tax benefits, as inheritance tax is calculated after gifts have been deducted from your estate.

To prepare for your Will-writing appointment, think about the good causes you’d like to benefit. It could be a charity that has helped you or a family member, such as a hospice or care provider, or one who fights for a cause you care about, such as animal welfare or the eradication of domestic abuse.

Look out for our next blog

Another crucial element of your Will is who you appoint as executors. Look out for next month’s blog covering their role and responsibilities.

How can AGR Law help?

A Will is a legally binding document. Any errors can invalidate it, meaning you die intestate, and your estate may not be divided up as per your wishes. Any omissions can make resolving disputes longer, more complicated, and more expensive.

Having your Will drawn up by us will mean:

  • We won’t miss any elements that make a Will legally binding
  • We won’t miss off any of your money or property assets
  • We will help you plan for scenarios where one or both partners die
  • We can keep on top of alterations, such as marriages, divorces/dissolutions, deaths, house moves etc.
  • Your Will will be drawn up to consider the circumstances in which dependants can claim if they feel they’re not provided for

For more information, please get in touch with our experienced team by calling 0116 340 0094 or emailing