How do I know my belongings will go to the right people when I’m gone?
When making your Will, you must appoint one or more executors to handle your affairs when you die. Administering an estate can often be simple and straightforward, therefore this is normally a job for your spouse, adult children, relatives or a friend, preferably someone you trust to administer your estate according to your wishes. Your executor can also be a beneficiary.
An executor, whether a layperson or a professional, is legally responsible for:
- Ensuring that the death is registered
- Organising the funeral
- Ascertaining the interests, values and liabilities of the deceased’s estate
- Investing all capital realised from the estate, complying with the legal requirements, completing various forms for the Probate, Registry and Inland Revenue
- Negotiating valuations of all outstanding bills and any debts
- Administering assets – selling or transferring property, shares and building society accounts
- If necessary, arranging the running of any business until disposal
- Distribution of the estate as directed by the will, and the preparation of final accounts.
Another important consideration is the appointment of someone to care for any children you may have, who are under 18 at the time of your death. These people are known as Guardians and they assume full legal responsibility and care of your children after the death of you and your spouse.
Dividing your estate
When deciding with whom to leave your assets, try to consider beyond leaving it all to your husband/wife – they may die before you. If everything is then to go to your children, is this to be equally shared, or would you divide it between them in different percentage shares? You can leave specific amounts of money called Legacies, to favourite friends, relatives or even charities. Or you may have a particular item of furniture or jewellery that you want to pass on to a specific person, this is called a Gift. Legacies and Gifts will always be taken from your estate first, then whatever remains, called your Residuary Estate, is divided between your beneficiaries, either equally or in percentage shares.
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