What you Should Never Put in your Will: Things to Avoid

If you’re thinking about writing a Will, you might be feeling unsure of where to start. There is a lot to consider and it’s not uncommon for people to feel daunted by the idea of making their wishes legally binding.

Knowing what to include in a Will can also be confusing. Of course, you’ll want to make sure your loved ones are looked after – but there are certain things you should leave out of your Will, too. These include:

In this short guide, we’ll look at each of these points in further detail and explain why they shouldn’t be included in your Will. And we’ll also answer the often asked question of whether or not you should write your funeral wishes into the document.

To find out more, keep reading or get in touch with our knowledgeable team for tailored advice.

Assets that are jointly owned

There is no need to include assets that are jointly owned in your Will. This is because the right of survivorship will usually apply.

For instance, if you own a property with someone else as joint tenants, they will automatically inherit the entire property when you pass away.

There are slightly different rules for people who own a property as tenants in common, though. In this case you would be able to include your share of the property in your Will as part of your estate.

To find out more about the differences between joint tenants and tenants in common, read our free joint ownership guide.

Similarly, any funds you have in a jointly held bank account will automatically transfer to the surviving account holder. So there would be no reason to include this in your Will.

Conditions for the distribution of your estate

If you’re thinking about adding conditions to the gifts left in your Will, we would suggest you reconsider. These conditions will not be legally recognised and would be very difficult – if not impossible – to enforce.

For example, if you set out in your Will that you’d like your granddaughter to receive your car on the condition she passes her exams, your family would be under no obligation to carry this out. After you’ve assigned a gift to a beneficiary, they will be able to do with it as they please.

As a result, we’d suggest thinking carefully about how you’d like to distribute your assets.

Gifts for pets

It's understandable that you’d want to make sure your pets are looked after when you’re gone. But it’s not legally possible to leave a cash or material gift for your pet in your Will.

Instead, we would suggest speaking to someone you know and trust about whether they could take on the care of your animal after your passing. If that person agrees, you could create a gift in your Will that leaves your pet to them.

You may also choose to leave a cash gift to the person responsible for your pet’s care, so they can cover the cost of vet’s bills, grooming and any other associated costs.

If you’re unable to find someone to take care of your pet, you can make a request for them to be looked after by an animal charity. Both the RSPCA and Dogs Trust offer services you can sign up to for the peace of mind that they’ll take your pets in when the time comes.

Anything you don’t legally own

It might seem obvious, but you will not be able to leave any items you don’t fully own in your Will. For example, if you have a car or a high-value laptop that was bought on a hire to purchase contract, you will not be able to pass these on unless you have fully paid them off.

Similarly, leased items will need to be returned to their provider when you pass away. If you’re not sure about what you can legally include in your Will, an experienced solicitor could help you.

Should my Will include my funeral plans?

Funeral plans can technically be included in your Will, and many people will add a clause which sets out whether they’d like to be buried or cremated. But there is a danger that your Will might not be released before your funeral takes place, leaving your family guessing what you would have wanted.

Because of this, we would always suggest speaking to your family members and close friends about your preferences before you die rather than trusting that they will find these in your Will.

We know that this can be a difficult subject to bring up but it could bring both you and your loved ones added reassurance that your funeral arrangements will be in line with your wishes. It may also be helpful to leave a written note of your plans that is separate from your Will. This could include:

  • Flowers to be displayed
  • Poems or readings to be used
  • Songs you’d like to have played
  • What you’d like people to wear
  • Your burial wishes – whether you’d like to be buried or cremated

It’s ultimately up to you whether you’d like to include funeral wishes in your Will, but we wouldn’t suggest using this as the sole method of communicating your plans with your loved ones.

How a solicitor can help

Making a Will doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Our experienced Wills and probate solicitors will work with you to ensure your Will includes everything it needs to, while remaining legally valid – giving you the peace of mind that your estate will be distributed in line with your wishes.

To find out more about how we could help you, get in touch with our team today for a free initial consultation.


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