Making a will is the best way to make sure your nearest and dearest will be taken care of after you die. But with so much to consider and so much legal jargon to get past, the task can seem pretty daunting, too. If you’re shuddering at the prospect of drafting your final wishes, don’t worry. We’ve created a will checklist to break things down into simple steps.


A quick checklist for making a will

This checklist for will planning is a great way to prepare for making a will with Beyond online, or for a meeting with a local solicitor. Just work your way through the steps below.


1) Write down your personal details

This is the easy part: write down your full name, your address, and your date of birth. Then do the same for your partner and your children, if you have them.


2) Size up your estate

Before you can get into all the details of who should get what when you’re gone, you need to work out what you have to give away. This is called your estate – and it should include your:

  • Bank or building society accounts
  • Stocks and shares
  • Any property you own
  • The contents of your home
  • Significant belongings – e.g. family heirlooms, jewellery
  • Any vehicles you own

Make a list of all these assets and a rough estimate of what they’re worth. You should also list any debts that might need to be sorted out. For example:

  • Mortgages
  • Loans
  • Credit card debt
  • Rent and utility bills
  • Outstanding taxes

You can’t give away any property or bank accounts that are owned jointly in your will – those will automatically go to the other joint owner when you die. But you should list them in your assets anyway, so that your executor can find them.


3) Choose your beneficiaries

The next thing on our checklist for creating a will is deciding who gets what! Your beneficiaries are the people you’d like to give something to in your will. You can leave them:

  • specific gifts – like a particular sum of money, or an item of jewellery
  • a percentage of the residuary estate – everything that’s left over after debts and taxes have been paid and specific gifts have been given away

You can leave all of your estate to one person, or split it between as many as you like. Some people like to leave everything to their partner or to leave their children an equal share.

For each beneficiary you name, be sure to make a note of:

  • their full name and address or date of birth
  • what you would like to give them
  • who you would like to inherit their share if they die before you

You can also leave all or some of your estate to a charity. 24% of Brits say they’d like to leave some money to a charity in their will. And this is more than just altruism: anything you leave to a charity is exempt from inheritance tax.

No solicitor’s checklist for making a will is complete without a quick mention of inheritance tax. Inheritance tax is paid on estates worth more than £350,000, but there are some exceptions. You can find out more about managing your inheritance tax bill here.


4) Choose guardians for your children and pets

If you have kids who are under the age of 18, you can use your will to say who should look after them if you and their other parent both die. You can do the same for any pets you have as well.

Guardians can be anyone over the age of 18, but it’s a good idea to choose people who know your children/pets well and who are used to looking after them. We have some tips on choosing guardians here to help.

On your ‘preparing a will’ checklist, write down the:

  • full name and address or date of birth of each guardian
  • who you’d like them to take care of
  • whether you’ve asked the guardian yet or not

Tick each guardian off the list once they’ve agreed – it’s important to have their permission before you write them into your will.


5) Choose executors to carry out your wishes

The executors of your will have the job of making your wishes a reality after you die. They’ll also be the ones to sort out all your legal and financial affairs, making sure your debts are paid and all your assets end up with the right people.

For each executor, make a note of their full name, address or date of birth.

You can choose up to four people to be your executors. They don’t have to be professionals, but they do need to be responsible and very well organised, as they’ll end up dealing with a lot of complicated paperwork. You can find out more about choosing Beyond as an executor here.


That’s it for our will checklist – now to write your will

You can make a legally binding will online here on Beyond. It takes just 10 minutes and costs just £90, or £135 for a couple’s will. To find out more and start making your will, click here.

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