The thought of making a will can seem overwhelming, especially if you have a large estate or complex affairs. No matter what your circumstances are, different types of wills are available to cater to your needs.
At Trinity Finance, we deal with all will types and our protection consultants are available to discuss your estate planning requirements and ensure they are accurately reflected in the correct type of will.
Main types of will
Wills can be categorised into three main types: a single will, mirror wills or a trust will. Each provides varying degrees of flexibility and protection so you can rest assured your estate will be handled according to your wishes and your loved ones will be looked after when you’re no longer here.
This type of will is for one person and you can make one whether you’re in a relationship or not. If you’re married, in a civil partnership or living with your partner, you may both have different wishes and, therefore, prefer having a single will to the other options available. This type of will doesn’t contain a trust and is ideal if your circumstances are straightforward. With a single will, you can:
- Name the beneficiaries, including charities, who are to inherit your estate
- Stipulate how your estate is to be divided between your beneficiaries
- Decide who is to act as the guardian of your children if they are under 18
- Decide who is to protect your children’s inheritance if they are under 18
- Choose who you wish to look after your pets
- Detail what is to happen regarding specific items you wish to pass on
- Provide details of specific funeral arrangements
- Name the executors who are to carry out your wishes as detailed in your will
When you’re in a relationship, whether married or not, you may have similar wishes to that of your partner. Mirror wills are two legal documents – one for each person – and, as the name suggests, they mirror each other with identical, or almost identical, content. This type of will is usually straightforward and is ideal for couples wishing to make sure that if one partner dies, the other is protected as well as their children. A typical example of mirror wills is that each partner states that everything is to be passed to the other one in the event of their death and when that partner has died, everything is to be shared equally among their children. This type of will can include a trust if preferred. When opting for mirror wills, you can both appoint each other as executors. It’s recommended to appoint another executor as well, though, in case you both die at the same time.
As well as being fairly straightforward, mirror wills are a cost-effective alternative to both partners having single wills. The downside to mirror wills, however, is that each partner can update or change their will without informing the other. If one partner dies, the surviving partner isn’t legally obligated to keep their mirror will. This means that you risk your estate not being passed to your chosen beneficiaries should your partner decide to change their original will.
An example of a bad scenario in this instance is if you both have children from previous marriages. Your mirror wills may state that you’ve each chosen to pass everything to your surviving partner and the entire estate is then to be divided equally between all of your children upon that partner’s death. However, after you die, your surviving partner – having inherited your estate – may decide they no longer wish to keep their original mirror will. They may choose to leave their entire estate to their own children, leaving yours without any inheritance at all. Mirror wills, therefore, require a considerable amount of trust in some circumstances. You may prefer to safeguard aspects of your estate for your beneficiaries via a trust will.
This type of will provides enhanced asset protection and more flexibility concerning your estate and beneficiaries. Instead of simply detailing what should happen to your assets when you die, a trust is set up to hold assets on behalf of your beneficiaries. You need to appoint trustees in your will to look after the trust and they will be responsible for administering the assets to your beneficiaries in a certain way. A trust will is a good choice if:
- You have children from a previous relationship and want to make provisions for them.
- You’re concerned that care fees may detract from your estate in the future.
- You wish to pass some of your assets to a beneficiary who cannot deal with the inheritance themselves — for example, if they’re disabled or vulnerable.
- You want increased flexibility depending on your beneficiaries’ needs at the time of your death.
Your trustees will be obligated to manage the assets in accordance with the terms you’ve specified in your will. They will have to act in the best interests of each trust beneficiary and take on the financial responsibility of managing the trust, which will include keeping accurate records. It’s recommended to appoint at least two trustees in case circumstances change and one is unable to carry out your instructions.
There are various types of trust wills to consider, such as:
- A property trust will
- A discretionary trust will
- A life interest trust will
When circumstances dictate that your will should include more protection and flexibility than a standard single will or mirror wills, contact one of our protection consultants on 01322 907 000 for advice. Each type of trust will has varying levels of complexity and different tax implications so it’s important to speak with an estate planning specialist to ensure you choose the right one.
Located throughout Kent, London and Edinburgh, our will specialists can discuss your estate planning requirements in detail to ascertain which type of will is best for your needs. If you prefer, send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or an enquiry via our contact form and we will reply to you as quickly as possible.
What is a property trust will?
Of the three trust will types mentioned above, we are often asked to prepare property trust wills on behalf of our clients. Your property is likely to be your most valuable asset and, as such, a property trust will can protect the value of your property, or your share of one, for your beneficiaries. Not all circumstances are straightforward and added protection is often needed that’s not included in a standard single will or mirror wills. The terms of a property trust will would allow someone you’ve named to benefit from your property during their lifetime while also ensuring other beneficiaries will benefit from your share of the property when circumstances change in the future.
For example, the terms can stipulate that your surviving partner can continue to live in the property during their lifetime and then your share of the property will be passed to your children. This is particularly useful if you have children from a previous relationship as it protects their inheritance should your surviving partner remarry or make a new will after your death.
Another reason to consider a property trust will is to help mitigate the impact of possible care fees on your property’s value. If you leave your entire estate to your partner and they eventually have to move into long-term care, their assets – which will include all of yours – can be taken into account as a way to cover the care fees. If you make a property trust will, however, your surviving partner can continue to live in the property until the point they need to move into a residential care home but your share of the property won’t be used to pay for the care fees.
We can guide you on the best type of will to suit your needs
At Trinity Finance, our protection consultants are highly experienced in dealing with all will types. They are available for in-depth discussions to help determine the type of will that best suits your circumstances, no matter how complex they may be. Common concerns raised regarding wills include guardians for minors, having more than one executor, legacies to be gifted before the estate is distributed, exclusions and family provision orders to go alongside them as well as ensuring children or other family members don’t lose their inheritance due to the remarriage of a surviving partner or external situations, such as bankruptcy. Whether you wish to make a single will, prefer mirror wills or need to set up a trust will, our specialists can explain your options in a jargon-free manner to ensure all of your estate planning concerns are covered.
Simply call our mortgage and protection consultants – located throughout Kent, London and Edinburgh – on 01322 907 000 for expert estate planning advice. As well as detailing the types of wills available and ascertaining which is best for you, they can assist you with making a will and provide you with inheritance tax planning advice. Our will specialists can also prepare a lasting power of attorney on your behalf to ensure that your health and/or financial affairs will be looked after in the future by someone you trust if you’re unable to make the necessary decisions yourself. If it’s out of office hours, send an email to us at email@example.com or an enquiry via our contact form and one of our specialist consultants will reply to you as quickly as possible with answers to your estate planning queries.