Preparing a Will

What you need to consider

Before preparing a Will, a person needs to consider what possessions they are likely to have when they die, including properties, money, investments and even animals. Before an estate is distributed among beneficiaries, all debts and funeral expenses must be paid. When a person has a joint bank account, the money passes automatically to the other account holder, and they can’t leave it to someone else.

Estate assets may include:
• A home and any other properties owned
• Savings in banks and building society accounts
• Insurance, such as life assurance or an endowment policy
• Pension funds that include a lump sum payment on death
• National Savings, such as Premium Bonds
• Investments such as stocks and shares, investment trusts, Individual Savings Accounts
• Motor vehicles
• Jewellery, antiques and other personal belongings
• Furniture and household contents

Liabilities may include:
• Mortgage(s)
• Credit card balance(s)
• Bank overdraft(s)
• Loan(s)
• Equity release

Jointly owned property and possessions
Arranging to own property and other assets jointly can be a way of protecting a person’s spouse or registered civil partner. For example, if someone has a joint bank account, their partner will continue to have access to the money they need for day-to-day living without having to wait for their affairs to be sorted out.

There are two ways that a person can own something jointly with someone else:

As tenants in common (called ‘common owners’ in Scotland)
Each person has their own distinct shares of the asset, which do not have to be equal. They can say in their Will who will inherit their share.

As joint tenants (called ‘joint owners’ in Scotland)
Individuals jointly own the asset so, if they die, the remaining owner(s) automatically inherits their share. A person cannot use their Will to leave their share to someone else.

Partial intestacy
This can sometimes happen even when there is a Will, for example, when the Will is not valid or when it is valid but the beneficiaries die before the testator (the person making the Will). Intestacy can also arise when there is a valid Will, but some of the testator’s (person who has made a Will or given a legacy) assets were not disposed of by the Will. This is called a ‘partial intestacy’.

Intestacy arises in all cases where a deceased person fails to dispose of some or all of his or her assets by Will; hence, the need to review a Will when events change.