There are a number of important things to consider and important decisions to make before you make a Will.
Including your loved ones
Looking after your loved ones will no doubt be your highest priority. Think about who you want to include as beneficiaries of your Estate – it might include your siblings, children, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and close friends.
Including a charity
If you have decided to leave a gift to charity in your Will, you will need to decide which one. You might have a favourite charity that you have supported in the past, or there may be a cause that is close to your heart. Or you might like to include several charities and cover a number of causes that are important to you. You can search for a specific charity or cause and find out what difference a gift in your Will could make.
Remember that gifts in Wills are an important source of income for many charities and enable them to carry out much of their vital work. If you do want to leave a charitable gift when making a Will, you can decide how small or large your gift is.
If you are still thinking about including a charity but aren’t yet sure, you might like to read about how easy it is to leave a gift to charity.
To help you decide on whether or not to include a charity, or to help you decide which charity to choose, reflect on what is most important to you and what legacy you would like to leave for future generations, and perhaps make a list of causes and charities in order of priorities. This should help you make a decision you feel comfortable with.
Looking after your children
If you have children under the age of 18, you will need to decide who you would like to take care of them if you die before they reach the age of consent.
Distributing your assets
You will also need to think about what assets make up your Estate, who you want to have them and how they should be distributed (for example, a percentage of your Estate given after a specific beneficiary reaches a certain age).
You might also want to think about passing on your digital assets when making a Will, such as music and photo collections.
Some useful information on the different ways in which Estates can be distributed is given in more detail on the How to leave a gift to charity page.
If you have a very complex Estate and wish to distribute in an intricate manner, we recommend that you seek professional legal advice.
Handling your affairs
The people that you nominate in your Will to handle your affairs after you’re gone are called Executors: they can be friends, family members, professionals or any combination of these. It is common and advisable for two people to share the task of executing your Will. Gifts can be anything you own including specific items, money, property or a percentage of your Estate.
When choosing an Executor, think about who would be best placed to deal with your affairs: someone you trust, is business-minded and perhaps is not a beneficiary in your Will. Alternatively, your Executor/s could be professional advisors, but bear in mind that there will be a charge for their services.
In addition to detailing the distribution of your Estate, your Will is also an opportunity for you to state what you would like to happen at your funeral. This takes away the guess work and can greatly reduce the burden on your loved ones while they are grieving, as well as ensure that your wishes are carried out.