How to gift your assets in a Will
If you’re ready to make your Will, getting to grips with what and how to leave things the people you love is crucial. There are different ways to gift different sorts of assets to your friends and family, and to avoid hassle later on you’ll need to do it right. Here’s what you need to know about gifting assets in a Will.
Who are you giving to?
It will help if, initially, you make a comprehensive list of all the people who you’d like to leave something to. This might include your husband or wife, your children, other family members, close friends and even charities. These people or organisations are known as your ‘beneficiaries’.
What will you give?
Start thinking about the things you want to include in your Will, which are known as your ‘assets’. These will include things like any savings you have, as well as valuable objects such as jewellery, artworks or heirlooms. These will be fairly predictable in value, so you can make a valuation even many years in advance and it will be accurate.
Next there will be things that will be harder to estimate their value, because their price can fluctuate greatly. These may include:
• Investments and shares
• Your house
• Other property you own, such as land or even a parking space
• Your pension
• Your business, if you own one
Although these will be harder to value accurately, they are likely to be some of your largest assets and important to think about during this process. If you want to include your pension, you will need to check out the rules attached to your individual policy. Estimating its value can be tough, but the Pensions Advisory Service may be able to help.
Finally, you make have some items of sentimental value which you would like to give away. These items may not be worth much in terms of money, but will mean a great deal to the beneficiaries receiving them.
Understand the ways in which you can leave your gift
There are five main ways in which you can gift an asset in your Will, depending on the type of asset or the way in which you want to leave it.
- Pecuniary bequest: If you want to leave a fixed sum of money to someone, this is known as a pecuniary bequest, for example, ‘I leave £1,000 to my daughter’.
- Residuary bequest: If you wish to leave the remainder of your Estate after debts and taxes have been settled, or a proportion of the remaining Estate, this is called a residuary bequest. This could be, for example, ‘I leave all my remaining Estate to my husband’, or ‘I leave half of my remaining Estate to my daughter’.
- Specific bequest: If you want to leave a specific item or group of items to a person, you can make a specific bequest, for example, ‘I leave to my sister my saxophone and the three paintings in the lounge’
- Revolutionary bequest: If you want something to pass to a person, but then to another person if the first person is not alive when you die, this is called a revolutionary bequest. For example, ‘I leave the holiday cottage in Devon to my wife, but if my wife does not survive me, I leave it to my son’. You can also use this to ensure a Charity or other organisation receives a gift from you if the original beneficiary is non-surviving, for example, ‘I leave everything I own to my husband, but if my husband does not survive me, then I leave everything to the Cats Protection League’.
- Trust: A trust is a way to request that assets pass on beyond your initial beneficiary. For example, you could state ‘I leave my share of the home to my husband for as long as he lives, and after that I want it to pass to my son’. This type of gift can be difficult to ensure, as in our example there is little to stop the husband selling the house before the son inherits it. If you want to include a trust in your Will, it’s a good idea to take some professional legal advice.
Once you’ve decided what you’re giving, who you’re giving it to and how, the important thing is to discuss your wishes with those closest to you. Have your will drawn up by a specialist, or do it yourself online. Either way, it’s important your loved ones know where to find your Will after you pass, so they can ensure your wishes are carried out as you planned.
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