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Planning Your Will - A Guide

The thought of making your Will can feel daunting, whatever age you are. There is just so much to consider, such as the provision of care for your loved ones and decisions on which people or what cause will inherit your estate.


While it might feel like a challenging process, making a Will is a necessary one to ensure that your wishes are met, so it is important to plan well in advance and be certain that you keep up to date with any changes in your wishes or circumstances, should they arise.


In this guide we explore how to make a Will and the things to consider when you are making one.


Can A Person With Dementia Amend Their Will?

Anyone making a Will needs to be able to demonstrate that they have ‘testamentary capacity’. This means that they:

  • Understand what making a Will means and the effect that it will have.

  • Are aware of what they own and how this might change over time.

  • Know who it is that they are naming in their Will and the moral obligations surrounding the decision, for example the reasons why you might be giving one child more than another.


A person with dementia can make changes to their Will as long as they are able to fully understand the changes they are making and the effect that it might have. However, Wills can be disputed after someone has died, so it is advisable, if you have received a dementia diagnosis, to have your Will prepared by a professional legal adviser. Part of a legal professional’s role is to assess testamentary capacity.


Planning For The Future – Will Planning Checklist

If you have decided that it is time to make a Will, then be sure to carry out the following:


1. Calculate the value of your estate


You can do this by noting down the value of everything that you own and then subtracting any debts which you owe. Such things might include property, furniture, cars, amounts in pensions, savings and bank accounts. We have a handy checklist that you can use in our free Gifts In Wills Guide to help you calculate the value of your estate.


2. Decide on the beneficiaries of your Will


Think about who you would like to benefit from your Will and what it is that you would like them to receive. You may also at this point want to consider leaving a charitable gift in your Will to benefit the causes which are closest to your heart. There are three different types of gifts you can leave, should you wish to do so:

  • Residuary gift (percentage share of your estate)

  • Pecuniary gift (fixed sum of money)

  • Specific gift (named item such as a piece of jewellery, property or shares)


3. Nominate the executors of your Will


An executor is a person or persons legally responsible for making sure the instructions in your Will are carried out as you requested and you can nominate up to four people to do this. If no one is suitable, then you can appoint a professional executor, such as a solicitor or accountant to conduct the role.


4. Nominate child guardians


If you have any children who are under the age of 18, then it is important to note who you would wish to be legal guardians of those children in your absence. You should also check with these people that they are willing to take on the responsibility.

Once you have made all these notes, then we recommend you use a solicitor or professional Will Writer to help you. They will prepare and approve the Will in accordance with your wishes, in order to ensure it is legally correct.


Do You Pay Inheritance Tax?

Inheritance Tax is charged at 40%, but it is only applied to amounts above £325,000. This tax is taken off before the inheritance is paid to the beneficiary. However, anything that you leave to your spouse, civil partner, a charity, or a community amateur sports club in your Will is exempt from inheritance tax.


If you bequeath your home to your children or grandchildren, then the inheritance tax threshold rises to £500,000 and any amount still left within this threshold when you die is passed on to your spouse or civil partner.


Inheritance Tax is charged at a reduced rate of 36% if you have left at least 10% of your net estate to charity.


Please note that the application of the Inheritance Tax thresholds will depend on your personal circumstances and it is advisable to obtain professional advice with regard to this.


Further Support In Making A Will

If you have been diagnosed with dementia and are looking for further information on making a Will, or need any legal or financial advice, you can get in touch with a member of our Wayfinding team for help and support on 01243 888691 between 9am - 4:30pm, Monday - Friday.


In addition, Cameron James Legal and Irwin Mitchell also hold free information clinics at Sage House to help with Powers of Attorney (PoA), Wills, and Advanced Directives. You will find advice and guidance on your personal circumstances and how you could progress.


Book an appointment via the Sage House reception desk or over the phone.


Can Wills Leave Money To Charity?

It is possible to leave money to charity in your Will and donations like this can make a vast difference.


Charities often receive little to no government funding and the only way that they can continue to provide services for the people they support is through donations, fundraising, trusts and grants and gifts in Wills.


We’ve prepared a free, easy to read guide to leaving a gift to charity in your Will with lots of information about Wills (including the Frequently Asked Questions) and the impact your donation can have. Please download your Giving a Gift in your Will guide or request a copy to be sent by post, by getting in touch with a member of our team.

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