Before starting the interview to enable us to create your will, you will find it useful to have certain information readily available.
If you don’t have everything to hand, don’t worry – you can easily save your progress and return later to pick up where you left off.
Details of people mentioned in the will
You should know the names and addresses of the people mentioned in the will, in whatever capacity:
Beneficiaries (people you are going to be leaving anything to in your will). If you are not naming them but simply describing them as 'my children' or 'my brothers and sisters', and so on, you do not need their names and addresses.
Executors and/or trustees. Executors are the people you choose to administer your estate. If the will creates trusts, but does not name separate trustees, then the executors will become the trustees of any will trust.
Guardians of children under 18.
Ideally, all these people should be aware that they are mentioned.
You don’t need to have the names and addresses of witnesses, because their names do not appear in the printed will – they can be added when you and they come to sign the will. But it is sensible to have an idea of who will be your witnesses, so that you don’t accidentally include them among the beneficiaries.
Value of the estate
You should have a good estimate of the value of your estate. It does not have to be exact – after all, it is very likely to change between you making your will and your family needing to implement its provisions. But it will certainly help you decide how to leave your estate if you know how much you are leaving. So you need to know the value of:
Your assets – property, cash, investments, personal possessions – anything of value that you own.
Your liabilities – outstanding debts on property (such as mortgages) or any other debts or financial commitments.
You also need to know which of your assets you own jointly, as joint tenants or tenants in common, and which are owned solely by you.
Details of property
You don’t always have to name specific properties in your will if you are leaving your entire residuary estate to a single beneficiary such as a spouse or civil partner. But many people choose to do so. And of course many people choose to leave property and other assets to different beneficiaries, or divided in a particular way.
If particular property is being mentioned, it is useful to have certain details to hand:
the title number at the Land Registry (if known); and
whether it is freehold or leasehold.
Details of other assets
If you are referring to any particular assets or accounts in the will – such as shares, bank or investment accounts – you should have to hand any details enabling them to be identified, such as the:
registration number of a car; and
details of any company in which you have an interest (registered address and company registration number).
All these details make your will clearer and less likely to lead to confusion later.
Pension or life policies
If your pension or life policy says that it will be paid directly into your estate on your death, it should be included in your assets. If it says that it is written 'in trust' or that it will pay out to your nominated beneficiary (for example your spouse, civil partner or children) then it does not count as part of your estate.
Details of personal possessions
If you are intending to itemise certain personal possessions in your will – such as jewellery, paintings or other items of specific or sentimental value – you will need just enough detail to be able to identify them precisely.
Many people prefer to use a letter of wishes to identify the particular possessions that they would like to be given to particular people, but remember that a letter of wishes is not strictly binding on the executors, though they would usually follow its terms.
Many of the most important things you need to consider are to do with the distribution of your property. You don’t necessarily have to have a lot of additional information with you for this, but you should have already thought about how you want your estate to be divided.
Who will be the principal beneficiary or beneficiaries?
Are there any specific gifts you want to make? Are they gifts of cash, or assets, or property, or personal possessions?
Do you want to make a gift to charity – either a specific gift or a share of your estate?
What if any beneficiary named in your will dies before you – what would you like to happen to their share?
Do you need to appoint guardians for your children?
Have you made enough provision for your family or dependants?
Do you want or need to make provision for stepchildren?
Do you need to consider any family members from previous relationships?
If you have specific funeral wishes, you can include them in your will, but sometimes people prefer to set them out in a letter of wishes.