For many, the prospect of making a will can be a daunting one. Sometimes it is the decision to make a will that is the most difficult part of the process.
So, having decided that the time has come to make a will you might wonder "What next?" or "What information do I need to provide to my solicitor?". At Beauchamps, our Private Client Associate Samantha Holton answers these very questions and sets out the information required to enable your solicitor to provide you with the best possible estate planning advice that is specifically tailored to your personal situation. When it comes to making a will there is no "one size fits all" however there is certain information that is applicable regardless of your circumstances and it is this information that forms the foundation stone upon which your will is will is drafted - a will that reflects your wishes and provides for your familys' needs.
Put simply there are three things you need to think about: You, Who and What.
- Your name, address and PPS number. While this might seem obvious, it is quite common for people to be formally named one thing be but called and go by another name and if this is the case it is important to advise your solicitor so they can address this issue in your will and cover all variations of your name to prevent confusion and complications later down the line. Your PPS number is also important as it is your personal identifier for revenue purposes. Also, let us know if you are suffering from any medical condition which could impact your ability to give instructions or to physically sign a will. By front loading any such issues we can discuss ways to deal with them and prevent complications during administration.
- Your marital status. Given the special protection afforded to the surviving spouse / civil partner of a deceased in the Succession Act, it is imperative that you correctly inform your solicitor of your marital status. In particular, if you are separated or divorced (either in this jurisdiction or another) it is important that any documents that might affect your estate plan, including prenuptial agreements, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, terms of settlement or Court Ordered annulments are made available to your solicitor. Also, if giving instructions in contemplation of a marriage, let your solicitor know so they can address this in your will as failure to do so can lead to your will being revoked on subsequent marriage. Divorce however does not revoke a will. If you are co-habiting with your partner it is important to advise your solicitor, as the circumstances of the relationship may give rise to a claim against your estate.
- The names and addresses of those people that you intend to name in your will (beneficiaries) so that they can be easily and correctly identified. In Ireland, it is not unusual for several members of the same family to share the same name so, if this is the case, a description of your relationship to the proposed beneficiary is necessary (ie brother, nephew, uncle etc) so that the bequest will not become void due to uncertainty. Where you intend to benefit minors, their birth dates are also important, and consideration needs to be given the type of bequest being left and whether a trust is appropriate.
- The name, address, and telephone number of the person (or people) you expect to name as the executor(s) / trustees of your will, to administer your estate after death. We would typically recommend the appointment of two executors /trustees so that if one cannot act for whatever reason (death, incapacity etc) there will be another ready to carry out their function. It is always prudent to confirm with your proposed executors / trustees that they are happy to be take on the role prior to appointing them in your will as a reluctant or unwilling executor / trustee can frustrate and delay the timely administration of an estate.
- If you have minor children, the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of possible guardians. Again, the importance of discussing and confirming agreement of guardians to take on this huge responsibility cannot be overestimated
Having decided who you want to benefit under your will the next thing to decide is what assets you wish to bequeath to your beneficiaries. To this end it is worth considering the following and making a list of all of your assets to include:
- The amount and source of your principal income and other income, such as interest and dividends.
- The amount, source, and named beneficiaries, if any, of your retirement benefits, including IRAs, pensions, ARFS, government benefits, and profit-sharing plans.
- The amount, source, and named beneficiaries, if any, of other financial assets such as bank accounts, credit union accounts, prize bonds, annuities, and loans due you.
- The amount of your debts, including mortgages, instalment loans, and business debts, if any. If you own property which is mortgaged it is also useful to provide your solicitor with details of this mortgage including the loan account number and the whereabouts of the title deeds.
- If leaving shares in a company, for example in a family business, does the bequest adhere to and honour the constitution of the Company and any shareholders agreement or similar?
- A list (with approximate values) of valuable property you own, including real estate, jewellery, furniture, collections, heirlooms, and other assets.
- A list and description of jointly owned property and the names of co-owners. Whether property is held jointly or as a tenant in common will impact on how this property will pass in your death so your solicitor will need sight of the deeds in order to advise you accordingly.
- The location of any safe-deposit boxes and an inventory of the contents of each.
Once you have given some thought to the above issues the next step is to contact us to set up an appointment at which we can advise you on the legal and tax implications of the will you wish to make and help you achieve your desired outcome.
- YOU: Name, address, date of birth, occupation, marital status, PPS number, health status
- WHO: Name and address and descriptions of your executors / trustees / guardians and beneficiaries.
- WHAT: Assets and liabilities: account details, real estate, life policies, retirement benefits, stocks & shares, jewellery & other such assets.