Which will? Where to start when making a will
This article explains how to find the will you want from the extensive collection offered by Net Lawman.
Things you need to have thought about before you choose a will
Before selecting the right template, you'll need to have a rough idea as to:
- whether the value of your estate will exceed the inheritance tax threshold
- whom you want to leave specific gifts of money and possessions
- whom you want to leave the remainder of the estate after specific gifts
We provide an information article called Sorting the structure of your will that provides more detail as to the things you might like to consider before writing your will.
Which will template?
We provide nine different last will and testament templates. In providing our alternatives, we aim not to tie you to a "one size fits all" approach that our competitors offer.
Look at one of our free templates first
We provide the first (and simplest) three for free. These contain slightly more provisions than many of our competitors provide for a cost. Since most people (60% according to HMRC) have estates worth less than the inheritance tax threshold (and therefore don't need to worry about reducing tax paid on their estates), the chances are that one of these will be what you want.
If you think that your estate will be valued higher than the tax threshold, then we still recommend that you look at a free will template first. Most of the wills we charge for are based on these free versions, and you'll be able to see whether a Net Lawman template is right for you (of course, we are sure that one will be).
Common features to all Net Lawman wills
All our will templates (including the free ones) contain:
- Extensive guidance on how to write your will. We have a full range of articles on writing your will on our site, but our guidance notes go further by giving you paragraph by paragraph help where we think you might need it. You may not need such detailed guidance all the time, but when you do, you'll find that we've provided it.
- An example letter of intent to help you write your own.
- Options for gift over in case the gift of the residual estate fails. These options allow you to specify other people to whom to leave your estate should the first person or group of people you choose die before you.
- Options for leaving gifts to underage children (i.e. to a parent or guardian for safekeeping, or in trust).
- Revocation of previous wills.
- Appointment of executors and their remuneration.
- Funeral wishes
All templates are suitable for men and women.
Which will template is most suitable?
We hope the following descriptions are sufficient to allow you to shortlist the templates that might be most suitable. We provide fuller descriptions on the introduction page to each document.
Free Net Lawman will templates
Use the free template Simple will with gift over if you wish to leave everything to one beneficiary who is an adult, group of adults, or a charity. This is the only will template that doesn't give you the option to leave specific gifts of money and possessions to specific people - all others do.
The free will template Will: to one person after legacies and bequests introduces options to give money and possessions to specific individuals and charities before the residual estate is given to a single beneficiary. It also includes simple STEP provisions for management of trust funds, so the template can be used to leave gifts to children under 18.
The free template Will: half to wife, husband or partner and half to children allows you to split the residual estate in proportions of your choice (not just 50:50) to two or more beneficiaries after specific gifts. It also contains Net Lawman trust provisions, based on STEP provisions, that give you greater flexibility in how assets left to children are managed.
Templates for parents that give greater control over their estate
Will template: lifetime beneficial interest for spouse, partner or dependent allows you to support someone for the rest of their lifetime (or under certain conditions). The lifetime beneficiary benefits from your estate, but never owns it, allowing you to leave it to someone else on their death. Often such a will would be used by someone who has remarried or who has a life partner, but who also has children from an earlier relationship whom he doesn't want to disinherit.
Will: home and part of estate into life trust for wife, husband or partner; other part into trust for other beneficiaries builds on the previous one by allowing you to put your home into a separate trust for a 'life tenant' (for example, your spouse) and then divide the remaining residual estate between two parties (such as your children and your spouse). The main advantage of such arrangements is that you can maximise use of tax allowances, support a spouse or dependent during their lifetime, and control to whom your estate is ultimately left. The main difference between this template and the former is that this one allows you to leave an immediate inheritance to a beneficiary, rather than that person or people having to wait until the lifetime beneficiary dies.
'Young family' will: to spouse or partner, gift over to children's trust is a typical will for a person with a young family. The residual estate is left solely to one person (most likely a husband or wife), with a gift over provision to other beneficiaries (most likely young children) if the primary beneficiary dies as well. On gift over the estate is placed into a discretionary trust with Net Lawman trust provisions, which enables re-arrangement of entitlements within two years, flexible future allocation, deferment of gifts to adulthood, modest tax planning and flexible instructions to guardians.
Templates for business owners
We recommend that you read our article on Leaving your business in your will. Because dividing business interests can reduce value and control, often the best solution when leaving a business in your will is to leave the entire share to a single person. As such, our templates only cover this possibility (although we give you the option to leave multiple businesses to multiple people). You might want to consider other solutions we mention in the article.
The following templates are suitable whether you have a share in a partnership or a shareholding in a company.
Will: business and value to nil rate band gifted separately leaves a business to a single person. We incorporate modest tax planning by creation of a gift to a set of beneficiaries equal to the nil rate band allowance before the residual estate is left to a single person (such as your spouse). There is an option for gift-over to a discretionary trust if your beneficiaries are children.
Will: value to nil rate band placed in discretionary trust is similar to the template above, except that it creates a discretionary trust for the beneficiaries of the gift to the value of the nrb for IHT. If you want your trustees to have greater control over how your estate is used, this may be a more suitable template than the one above. Use of a discretionary trust enables re-arrangement of entitlements within two years, flexible future allocation, deferment of gifts to age 25, modest tax planning and flexible instructions to guardians.
Will: assets in trust: lifetime beneficial interest and discretionary trust allows modest tax planning and a high level of control over your estate. Part of the residual estate is used to create a lifetime beneficial interest for someone such as a spouse (giving that person benefit of the assets without control). On that person's death, the gift is distributed to other beneficiaries or to a discretionary trust fund. The rest of the residual estate is placed into a discretionary trust fund. This would be an ideal template for someone with a second family who does not wish to disinherit the first, but does wish to provide for a second husband, wife or partner.
Alternatives to using a template
If you would prefer not to use a template, then you could use Net Lawman's online will writing software. We ask you questions about your wishes, and our software writes your will for you. The software is free to use and can create any will that could be created by a template - including our free versions.
The software can be found by clicking on the "Create Online" tab on the wills page.
If you would like a personal consultation, you might wish to read our article about free will writing services. Despite being advertised as free, these sometimes come at cost if you need anything more than a very simple will. Availability may also be restricted to people who meet certain criteria.
Please note that the information provided on this page:
- Does not provide a complete or authoritative statement of the law;
- Does not constitute legal advice by Net Lawman;
- Does not create a contractual relationship;
- Does not form part of any other advice, whether paid or free.
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