Unusual reasons to make a Will

Jul 4, 2024

Most of us know that it is important to make a Will to ensure that our estate is passed on to those we want to inherit in the most efficient way possible.

The most common reasons cited for the importance of making a Will include:

  • Ensuring you provide for your loved ones
  • Avoiding disinheritance traps
  • Managing tax and other liabilities
  • Reducing the risk of family disputes in the future

However, there are other more unusual reasons why having a valid Will is beneficial.

Setting out your funeral wishes

While it is always advisable to discuss your wishes with your loved ones if you can, it is open to you to put some basic funeral wishes in your Will. There is no obligation on your executors to follow these, but it can be of comfort for family members to know what your preferences were.

You can also consider leaving a Letter of Wishes with your Will setting out in more detail anything you would like to happen. This is an opportunity to select a charity, if you would like memorial donations, decide whether you prefer burial or cremation and select the sort of service and music. Again, it can be helpful and reassuring for loved ones to know what you want to happen.

If necessary, a Letter of Wishes can be changed over time without the need to make a new Will. It can also be used to include other wishes, such as how you want trustees to deal with assets if your Will sets up a trust.

Dealing with digital assets

Increasingly, people are accruing digital assets and it is important to ensure that these are recorded so that they are not lost after someone dies. Noting digital assets in your Will can alert your executors to the fact that they exist. You should not include passwords or cryptocurrency keys, but ensure that these are stored securely and that the executors have the information they need to identify the assets and access them when the time comes. Digital vaults often have the option of including a legacy contact who will be able to open the vault by providing the necessary paperwork.

Making decisions about your social media accounts

Other non-valuable online matters can also be dealt with briefly in a Will. For example, some social media platforms offer memorialisation of an account after a death, allowing those left behind to continue to view some content.

You may also have large numbers of photographs stored online that could be of great comfort to your loved ones. You can consider who you would like to be able to access these and ensure that they have the authority to do so when the time comes.

Again, these issues can be dealt with alongside your Will in a Letter of Wishes where appropriate. The leaving of valuable assets should be put in the Will itself and your solicitor will be able to work with you to ensure that your Will is as comprehensive as necessary to pass on everything in the way that you want. Other matters can be included in the Letter of Wishes.

Leaving sentimental items

As well as leaving your property, savings and investments to your chosen beneficiaries, you can also use your Will or an accompanying Letter of Wishes to leave less valuable items to friends and family. This is your chance to select something that you feel might be meaningful to give to loved ones to remember you by.

Looking after your pets

Making a Will is your opportunity to ensure that any pets you have will be cared for in the future. While it is not possible to leave money to pets, you can make arrangements for them to be looked after. They are considered chattels, so you can bequeath them to a named beneficiary. If the beneficiary is willing to take them on, you can also leave the beneficiary a sum of money to use to look after the pet.

Wherever possible, you should speak to the individual beforehand to check that they are happy with the arrangement. You can also name a second choice if you wish.

Money can be left to the beneficiary on condition that they take on the pet. They will then have that money to spend as they see fit. The Will can be worded so as to include any future pets that you may have, but you need to ensure that your choice of beneficiary is still happy to take them on.

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