According to Canada Life, 31 million adults in the UK haven’t made a will.
Making a will is a vital part of any financial plan. It ensures your assets pass to your chosen beneficiaries on your death and allows you to appoint guardians for any children you have. Without one, your assets might not transfer to the people you want them to when you pass away.
When it comes to writing your will, there are a range of different types of “bequests” that you can make. Read on to find out more about the bequests you can leave, and why November is a great time to write or update your will.
A bequest is a gift you leave in your will
A bequest is essentially any gift that you leave in your will. It might be to a family member, friend, or an organisation such as a charity.
Bequests can include almost anything, from cash, shares, and property, to sentimental items such as your wedding ring or jewellery, antiques or paintings, and so on.
Typically, you will draw up bequests when writing your will. Doing this can help to prevent disputes later, as your wishes will be clear.
Here are seven common types of bequests you might want to make.
1. Specific bequest
A specific bequest is a gift you make of a particular item or sum of money, which is given to a specified recipient.
Example: “I leave my wedding ring to my daughter, Grace. I leave £10,000 to my son, Peter, and my Tesco shares to my sister, Julia.”
2. Demonstrative bequest
This is a bequest where you give a gift of money that is to be paid when a specific item is sold.
Example: “I leave my brother, Tim, the proceeds from the sale of my Isle of Wight holiday home.”
3. General bequest
This is sometimes called a “pecuniary bequest”. Here, you give a sum of money to a specific recipient.
Example: “I leave £5,000 each to my grandchildren, Oliver and Amy.”
4. Charitable bequest
As well as leaving gifts to friends and family in your will, you can also donate money or assets to a charity, political party, or any other organisation.
Leaving money to charity can help good causes and cut your tax bill – particularly if you have an Inheritance Tax (IHT) liability.
Gifts to charity don’t count towards the value of your estate for IHT purposes and, if you leave at least 10% of your net estate to charity, you’ll pay a reduced IHT rate of 36%.
Example: “I leave £5,000 to Cancer Research UK.”
5. Reversionary bequest
A reversionary bequest sets out who is next in line to get a gift, if the beneficiary you originally proposed dies before you do.
Example: “I leave my mother’s wedding ring to my sister, but if she predeceases me, I leave it to her daughter.”
6. Conditional bequest
Most of the above are “absolute” bequests because the recipient is intended to benefit as soon as possible.
When you leave a conditional bequest, the beneficiary must meet certain conditions before they receive the assets. These conditions might include getting married, having children, going to university, and so on.
Example: “I leave our daughter £30,000, providing she uses the money as the deposit for a property. I also leave my BMW 3-series to our son, provided he has passed his driving test by then.”
7. Residual bequest
A residual bequest wraps up the remaining value of your estate, after you have made all the other bequests, and any debts and tax demands have been settled. It will normally be made to a spouse or partner, or children.
Example: “I leave the remainder of my estate to my husband.”
Make and update your will this Will Aid Month
If you need to write a will, November is a great time to do it. That’s because it’s Will Aid Month.
Every November, participating solicitors volunteer their time and waive their fee for writing a basic will.
Instead, they will ask you to make a voluntary donation to Will Aid – typically £100 for a single will – where the money supports partner charities including Save the Children, the British Red Cross, Age UK, and the NSPCC.
Writing your will in Will Aid Month benefits everyone. You get a professionally drawn-up will, while nine of the UK’s most popular charities receive much-needed donations for their vital work.
Use the online solicitor search to find a Will Aid participant near you.
Get in touch
To find out how we can help you to manage your estate, please get in touch. Contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01189 876655.
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning, tax planning or will writing.