What you can put in a will ?

If you’re thinking of writing your will, what should you put in it?

Getting started

Over time, you’ll come to own all sorts of things like a property, savings or a pension. You may also have treasured possessions that you would like to pass on. Whether you’re updating an existing will or starting to think about writing one for the first time, here’s what could go in your will.

Appoint executors

Executors are the people you choose to be responsible for making sure the wishes in your will are carried out. Many people choose trusted friends or family members as their executors. If you do this, make sure you ask them first. You can appoint a solicitor or an accountant, especially if you don’t have anyone you can ask, but their costs vary quite widely. You don’t have to appoint more than one executor, but it is a good idea to do so.

Sorting out the will of someone who’s died does involve some time, effort and paperwork for the executors. Some people like to do the work themselves. But they can choose a solicitor to help them to do some or all of the work (the cost of this would come out of the money you leave behind).

Appoint guardians

If you have children under the age of 18 (16 in Scotland), you can use your will to appoint guardians for them. These are people who agree to look after your children if you die and there is no one left with parental responsibility for them. If you don’t appoint guardians, the courts will decide who should take care of your children and this may not match your wishes.

Pass on property you own

If you own your home – or a buy to let property – in your own right you can leave it in your will to whoever you like.

If you own your home with someone else (such as your husband, wife or partner) what happens to it after you die depends on how it is owned:

  • If you own your home jointly as what’s called ‘joint tenants’, your share of the property passes automatically to the other person. This is the case whether or not you have a will. Most married couples own property in this way. In Scotland, joint tenancy is called ‘joint ownership with a survivorship destination’. Ignore the fact that the language talks about tenants and tenancy – it’s nothing to do with renting.
  • If you own your home with someone else as ‘tenants in common’, that means you both own distinct shares and you can say in your will who you would like your share to go to. If you don’t have a will, your share of the property will be passed on under the laws of intestacy. This could mean that your children or parents inherit, for example. In Scotland, ‘tenants in common’ is called ‘joint owners’.

Leave gifts to people

Many people like to pass on items they own of sentimental value. If you have a will, you can leave specific items you own to people you’d like to inherit them.
For example, ‘I give my engagement ring to my granddaughter’. And you can leave money to people as well – for example, ‘I give £1,000 to each of my children’.

Once you’ve decided who you’d like to leave specific gifts to, you can then set out who you would like to leave everything else to (known as the ‘residuary estate’).

You can also say who should inherit if any of the people you leave money or gifts to die before you.

Provide for stepchildren and unmarried partners

Under the rules of intestacy (which set out who will get what if you die without a will), unmarried partners and stepchildren won’t automatically inherit from you. Instead, they would have to go to court to make a claim, which can be both emotionally and financially costly. So, if you would like to pass anything on to them, it’s important you put this in your will.

Leave instructions about your online accounts

These days, when so much of what we do is online, it’s important to think about what should happen to your online accounts, from emails and photographs to online bank and gaming accounts. Unless you specifically mention these and leave a list of how to access them, they could be lost forever. However, it’s best to leave this in a separate note alongside your will rather than in your will (your will can become a public document after you die which means anyone can access it).

Give someone the benefit of something for their lifetime

This is called giving someone a life interest (liferent in Scotland) and it can be quite useful. For example, if you own your home in your sole name, you could give your partner the right to continue to live in your home until they die. Once they die, you can state in your will that you’d like your home to pass onto your children. That way your partner will continue to have a home for as long as they live.

Minimise the inheritance tax bill

If your estate (that’s everything you own less anything you owe) is big enough to worry about inheritance tax, a solicitor can advise you on how to write your will to minimise the amount of tax paid. Generally there isn’t any inheritance tax to pay if your estate is worth less than £325,000. However, if you give your home away to your children (including adopted, foster or step children) or grandchildren, your estate can be worth up to £500,000 before inheritance tax kicks in. And if your spouse or civil partner dies before you, you could potentially pass on up to £1million free of tax. For more detail see Gov.uk

Single Will v Mirror Will

Single Wills are just that, a single will for 1 person. You cannot get a joint Will. For 2 people, say for example a husband or wife, boyfriend and girlfriend or a civil partnership, you would obtain a Mirror Will. They are called mirror wills because they normally mirror each other’s wishes but you can say in your Will different wishes of course.

A single Will is charged at £99, for a Mirror Will, 50% is taken off and is charged at £149

Here at David Nicholls, we can arrange this for you, contact us now for a free quote.

(please note, there are no hidden charges !)


A guardian is a person who has legal responsibility for children if their parents die and the children are under the age of 18 yrs of age. If there is no provision in a Will, children can be placed in care until the court appoints official guardians to look after them. In order to avoid this, many parents appoint a guardian.

What are a guardian’s responsibilities?

A legal guardian is responsible for all the roles you would usually play as a parent, including:

• Bringing them up until they reach adulthood
• Giving them somewhere safe to live
• Maintaining their diet and health
• Making sure they get an education


When you write a Will, you’ll be asked whether you would like to leave any legacies, otherwise known as gifts.

There are different types of legacy, and it’s useful to understand some of the most common, which include:

A Pecuniary Legacy, which is when you leave a fixed sum of money to a particular person. For example, you might leave £1,000 to your cousin.

A Specific Legacy, which is when you want to leave a specific item to a specific person. For example, you might want to leave your engagement ring to your granddaughter.

A Charitable Legacy, which is when you leave a gift to charity in your Will. This will be tax exempt.

A Residual Legacy, which is when the remaining assets in your Estate are left to a certain person or people. These beneficiaries will receive the ‘residue’ of the Estate, which is the net balance after tax, debts and other legacies have been paid. If you’re leaving the residue to more than one person, you will need to say what proportion each person should receive.

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General wishes or Letter of wishes

Funeral arrangements - these are your death wishes

This is what is says on the tin. It’s organising the actual money side to the cost of your funeral to the actual arrangements of what you to happen on the day. You may want a certain song to be played or you may wish for a certain coffin or you may wish for the place of the funeral to happen at a certain place such as at sea !

You can of course choose what you want to. You may even wish for a party for your friends like the Irish or you may wish for an amount to go to your favourite charity or you may even wish for

Blocking someone from gaining access to your assets

Putting wishes within the Will legally

Signing the Will

Once the will has been finalised, it will be emailed to you and printed and sent to you in the post to the address of your choice. You will need to sign the will in front of 2 independent witnesses. These witnesses cannot be within the will such as your children, your partner or member of your family. This process is known as Attestation.

Once the Will is signed, we can store a master copy here in our vault / office and a copy is given to you or you can store the original will at your home for example. Please note, if your will is damaged or you cannot find your will, in the eyes of the law, you do not have a will and your wishes will not be kept !
Most banks will charge £40 annual charge to store the will. Here at David Nicholls Associates, we charge £15 annually.

If ever your family wish to see the will, we can (with your authority) email them a copy.

What is a letter of wishes?

This is simply a letter, written in plain English or typed, which sets out your wishes for the distribution of your estate on death. It is a non-binding letter designed to sit alongside your will.

Its purpose is to provide guidance to executors, trustees and family members and provides an opportunity to set out your thought process either at the time of making the will or at a later date. In many cases, a letter of wishes will become the most important tool in assisting your executors and trustees in reaching pragmatic early decisions in line with your specific wishes – speaking out where a will cannot. A letter of wishes can be key on assisting your executors to manage family expectations, wealth, the family business, and general family dynamics for many years.

Some thing are taken for granted such as pets, but who would look after your pet/s if you died ?

Amending a Will later on

Here at David Nicholls Associates, you can pay a one off cost of £15 and can amend your Will in the future.

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