How to leave a legacy
Below are some of the things that you need to consider when writing a will:
1 - Appoint a professional advisor
It is important that you appoint a solicitor or professional advisor to give you impartial confidential advice specifically related to your personal circumstances
2 - Assess the value of your estate
Make a list of all your assets (property, possessions, bank accounts, stocks, life insurance policies etc) minus any outstanding costs (e.g. mortgages, loans). This will help you work out the value of your estate and help your advisor assess if you are liable to pay inheritance tax or not.
3 - Consider who you want to benefit
Get together a list of family-members, friends, charities and any other organisations who you'd like to benefit from your will. You will need their addresses and, in the case of charities, their registration numbers.
4 - Think about how you want them to benefit
There are many different ways in which you can leave a gift to your chosen beneficiaries whether you'd like to leave them a particular sum of money, a favourite heirloom or a percentage of your estate.
Download our simple guide to the the differences between these legacies and some sample wording which can be easily inserted into your will with our Different types of legacies (PDF, 933KB) leaflet.
5 - Appoint exectutors and witnesses
An executor ensures that your wishes are carried out in accordance with your will. You can appoint professional advisors, such as your solicitor, although they will charge a fee to your estate. Your will should be signed in the presence of two witnesses and your solicitor or advisor can usually make arrangements for this to be carried out. Your witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of your will.
6 - Tax free allowance and Inheritance tax
The first part of any estate is free from inheritance tax. Anything you give to a legal spouse (including those registered under civil partnership) or a registered charity is also absolutely free of inheritance tax and including these in your will may help reduce the liability to tax. Your solicitor or professional advisor will be able to suggest the most tax-efficient planning methods in your own particular circumstances.
Find further details about Inheritance tax and the new tax scheme Legacy 10 (PDF, 42 KB)
7 - Keep your will safe and up-to-date
It is important to keep your will safe and up-to-date to ensure that it reflects your wishes and your current circumstances. It is a good idea to leave a copy of your will with your solicitor and to let an executor know where to find it. You can amend your will at any time.
If you'd like further information or have any questions about leaving a gift in your will please contact:
Historic Royal Palaces
HM Tower of London
tel: 020 3166 6343
All conversations are completely confidential and non-binding.