To choose beneficiaries and executors – the most obvious reason to make a Will is to ensure that those (and only those) you want to benefit from your estate after you die will in fact benefit. Making a Will also allows the client to choose who will administer and distribute the estate on their behalf.
To make specific arrangements for minors. Where a minor child inherits on intestacy, his or her entitlement will be held on statutory trusts until he or she attains the age of 18. By making a Will, the testator can choose their trustees, dictate the terms of the trust (imposing conditions and controls as necessary) and ensure that the trustees have full and modern powers of administration.
To exercise control over the ultimate destination of property – Will trusts can be useful where it is desired to create successive interests in property. An example might be where a testator, who has children from a previous marriage, would like to provide financial security for a new partner if she survives him but would ultimately like the capital to be preserved for his own children.
To deal with foreign property – many individuals these days acquire holiday or second homes abroad. Whilst leaving assets without a Will in one’s home country is bad enough; it gets significantly worse if properties are owned in other jurisdictions. There would be considerably more cost as well as the fact that in certain European countries the law prescribes who must inherit on a person’s death. A UK Will is likely to be accepted in most European countries, although sometimes it is recommended that a local Will is also executed in respect of any property situated in that country that mirrors the provisions under the UK Will. Clients in such circumstances will need to consider the implications of the EU Succession Regulation 650/212.
To secure IHT savings – where an intestate estate is greater than £250,000 and the deceased left children, part of the nil rate band will inevitably be utilised on first death – thereby depriving the survivor of the opportunity to benefit from a percentage uplift in (what is likely to be) an increased nil rate band amount on second death under the transferable nil rate band rules. Making a Will can also enable the use of more than two full nil rate bands where one (or both) of a married couple/civil partnership has transferable nil rate band accruing from a previous marriage.
To ensure that, where appropriate, the residence nil rate band is available to its maximum. To qualify for this the Will must provide that the residence of the testator (or assets representing its value when such a residence has been disposed of during lifetime, for example by downsizing) is left to lineal descendants (broadly children or grandchildren) or their spouses/civil partners. This includes certain trusts, but not a discretionary trust.