what you should never put in your will uk

December 2023

What You Should Never Put In Your Will UK In December 2023


Creating a will is a crucial step in securing your family’s future. Understanding what should never be included in a will in the United Kingdom is vital. 

This article discusses a variety of assets and agreements that may not qualify for inclusion. By comprehending these complexities, you can ensure your wishes distribute your estate.

Topics that you will find covered on this page

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Funeral Arrangements and Funeral Wishes

It is not recommended to include funeral arrangements and desires in a will. Because the whole probate court and procedure can be lengthy, your will may not be immediately accessible.

Discuss these issues with your family and leave a document outlining your funeral wishes beforehand. Funeral expenses are an additional factor to consider. It is essential to make financial arrangements for your funeral costs. 

This could be accomplished through a pre-paid funeral plan or by establishing a separate savings account.

Bank Accounts and Jointly Owned Property

Your will should not include bank accounts and other jointly possessed assets. The surviving partner, joint tenant, and account holder automatically inherit the property held as joint tenants. Please include them in your will at your peril.

Accounts held jointly and savings accounts with designated beneficiaries also avoid probate. Therefore, including these accounts in your will is unnecessary.

Pension Benefits and Life Insurance Policies

Pension benefits and beneficiary-designated life insurance policies are not part of your estate. These funds are disbursed directly to the intended recipients. Please include them in your will at your discretion.

Since your life insurance policy payouts are not subject to probate and are paid directly to the designated beneficiaries, you do not need to include these policies in your will.

Business Interests and Succession Planning

It may be inappropriate for those with business interests to include specific instructions in their will regarding the future administration of the company.

In such situations, obtaining professional advice and establishing a trust fund or a separate legal document for business succession planning is recommended.

Additionally, business proprietors must consider the effects of their demise on the company’s operations and employees. Planning can facilitate a seamless transition and safeguard the value of the business.

Leased Vehicles and Hire Purchase Agreements

Leased vehicles and hire purchase assets, such as finance furniture and leased automobiles, should not be included in your will.

These items remain the leasing company’s or financier’s property until the finance agreement is paid in full. Therefore, you need more legal authority to leave them to your beneficiaries.

Ensure that your family and loved ones know of any outstanding financial obligations or leased property to avoid confusion and complications after your passing.

Conditional Gifts and Probate Complications

Attaching conditions to bequests in a will can complicate the administration of the estate, especially if the conditions are deemed unreasonable or unenforceable. 

It is best to avoid imposing excessively restrictive or complicated conditions to prevent disputes and guarantee that your wishes distribute your gifts.

Discussing your intentions with your beneficiaries can also aid in preventing misunderstandings and ensuring that your wishes are honoured.

By understanding the categories of assets and property included, and arrangements that should not be included in your will, you can create a valid and thorough legal document that distributes your estate to your intended beneficiaries. 

However, seeking professional assistance when drafting a will is always prudent to ensure it satisfies all legal requirements.

The Importance of Updating Your Will

Changes in adult adulthood may happen, including entering a new relationship or having minor children. These occurrences necessitate that you update your will accordingly. 

For instance, if you die and wish to include provisions for little children, you must appoint legal guardians and specify trust arrangements.

It is essential to regularly evaluate and update your will to ensure that it remains relevant and reflects your current wishes.

Seeking Professional Advice

Estate planning can be complex, and drafting a valid will necessitates deliberation. When composing or revising a will, it is best to consult a professional to ensure that you cover all pertinent details and avoid including assets or funeral arrangements that should not be included.

Professional guidance can assist you in navigating the complexities of estate planning, understanding a will’s legal requirements, and ensuring that your estate is distributed according to your wishes.

You can create a comprehensive legal document that accurately reflects your wishes and ensures the equitable distribution of your estate by considering these factors. 

It is highly recommended that you seek professional assistance when composing or revising your will to ensure compliance with legal requirements and to address any changes in your personal or family circumstances. 

Remember that your will is an important document and an essential part of your estate planning and should be handled with the care and consideration it merits.

what not to put in your will in the UK

Pension Plans and Designating Beneficiaries

Frequently, pension plans permit you to designate beneficiaries to receive pension benefits upon your demise. These beneficiary designations are distinct from your will and automatically pass to the named beneficiaries.

Including pension plans in a will is unnecessary and not legally binding. Beneficiary designations must be up-to-date and consistent with your overall estate planning objectives.

Avoiding Unnecessary Probate Proceedings

Ensure that certain assets, such as life insurance policies, pension plans, and jointly held property, are not included in your will to avoid superfluous probate proceedings.

These assets automatically pass to the designated beneficiaries, surviving partners, or spouses; no probate is necessary.

By knowing which assets to include and which to exclude from your will, for example, you can expedite the probate process and ensure that your estate is distributed effectively.

"Creating a will is a crucial step in securing your family's future."

Addressing Gifts with Conditions

It is essential to exercise caution when attaching conditions to bequests in your will. Such conditions and situations can complicate the administration of the estate, particularly if they are deemed unreasonable or unenforceable.

It is best to avoid imposing excessively restrictive or complicated conditions to prevent disputes and guarantee that your wishes distribute your gifts. 

Discussing your intentions with your beneficiaries can also aid in avoiding misunderstandings and ensuring that your wishes are honoured.

Essential to effective estate planning is knowing which assets and arrangements should not be included in your will. You can create a valid will that ensures your estate is distributed according to your wishes if you know these guidelines and seek professional assistance. 

Regularly updating your will and informing your beneficiaries will contribute to a smooth probate process and preserve your family’s interests.

what not to put in your will

Planning for Gifts to Pets

When intending to leave gifts to pets in your will, it is essential to consider the optimal and best course of action. Because pets are deemed property under the law, they cannot be designated as beneficiaries in the last will. 

Instead, it would be best to consider leaving money to the individual responsible for your pet’s care or to an animal charity that can ensure your pet’s well-being after your death.

By discussing the gift and your intentions with the owner or designated caretaker and detailing the gift in your will, you can ensure that your cherished pets will be cared for properly in the event of your passing.

Life Insurance Policies and Your Will

Estate planning is substantially reliant on life insurance policies. Life insurance policies should not be included in your will because they are not part of your inheritance. 

These policies instead pay the death benefit directly to the named beneficiaries, avoiding the probate procedure.

Review and revise the named beneficiaries regularly to ensure your life insurance policy aligns with your overall estate planning objectives.

Joint Accounts and Your Will

When dealing with joint accounts, such as savings accounts or checking accounts, it is crucial to comprehend how they will be handled upon your passing. 

Regardless of what is specified in your will, joint accounts typically pass automatically to the surviving joint statement with the holder. 

Therefore, including joint accounts in your choice is optional and recommended, as doing so can cause confusion and probate delays.

By comprehending the rules governing joint accounts and maintaining an up-to-date will, you can ensure that your wishes distribute your assets and that your loved ones are provided for after your death.

The Impact of Hire Purchase Agreements on Your Estate

A hire purchase agreement is a form of financing that enables you to acquire an asset, such as a vehicle, through instalment payments. 

When planning your estate, it is essential to remember that property investments included or subject to hire purchase agreements should not be included in your will. This is because ownership is not transmitted until the final payment.

Leased automobiles, for instance, are not possessed outright and, therefore, cannot be included in a will. Before including assets in your will, examining the terms of any finance agreements to avoid complications during the probate process is essential.

will in the UK

Setting Up a Trust for Your Pet’s Care

Establishing a trust for your pet’s benefit is one option for providing for them after your demise. By identifying a person or a relevant animal charity as the trustee, you can ensure the funds will be used to provide lifelong care for your pet. 

Setting up a trust fund for your pet’s welfare is one of the worthwhile things you can do as an adult to provide for your loved ones, including your pets.

Anticipating Potential Challenges to Your Will

When drafting a will, it is essential to consider potential probate and wills-related obstacles. A dispute over the possession of certain types of assets, such as jointly held property or savings accounts, could be one such obstacle. 

By explicitly stating your intentions in your will and consulting an attorney, you can reduce the likelihood of disputes and ensure a more efficient probate process.

Sometimes, a probate court may be required to resolve disputes or clarify aspects of writing your will. By anticipating potential obstacles and addressing them in writing your will, you can reduce the anxiety and uncertainty for your loved ones during an already trying time.

Meet the author

Jane Parkinson

Jane Parkinson

Jane is one of our primary content writers and specialises in elder care. She has a degree in English language and literature from Manchester University and has been writing and reviewing products for a number of years.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do joint accounts affect my will?

Joint bank and savings accounts can significantly affect your will. Regardless of the terms of the deceased beneficiary, person, or account holder’s will, the surviving account holder typically inherits the deceased beneficiary or account holder’s funds upon death. When drafting a will, it is crucial to consider the implications of joint accounts and, if necessary, discuss alternative arrangements with your surviving spouse to ensure your wishes are fulfilled.

Can I include leased cars in my will?

Leased vehicles cannot be included in a will because the lessee does not own them. Leased vehicles are subject to a finance or hire purchase agreement, and the leasing company or finance provider retains ownership. 

If you wish to die or to give a vehicle to a beneficiary, you must ensure that the car is possessed outright and not subject to a lease or hire purchase contract.

What property can be included in my will?

When drafting a will, you must account for all your property, including real estate, personal belongings, and financial assets. You can include any property you own outright in your will and distribute it to your designated beneficiaries. 

Nonetheless, certain types of assets, such as jointly held property or investments subject to finance agreements (e.g., leased vehicles), may not be included. Consult a professional to ensure you will accurately account for your eligible assets.

When is the best time to write a will?

The optimal time to draught a will is during adulthood when you are in good health and completely comprehend your assets and desires. 

It is essential to revise your will frequently during adult life to reflect any changes in your circumstances, such as the purchase of new property or the birth of children. Preparing and revising your choice ensures your wishes are fulfilled, and your loved ones are cared for after your death.

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