Sit down and make a complete list of all your possessions. People very often underestimate the value of their estate. Include property, cars, personal effects and any other assets. Do not forget money in banks, building societies and savings accounts. You should also remember to include Ownership of the Exclusive Right of Burial in a grave. This will make a transfer of ownership in the future much simpler. Your executors will need to know where all relevant documents are kept. Do not forget to note down any debts owed to you or any money you owe to others.
Make a list of people or charities you would like to benefit from your Will. If there are any special mementoes you would like particular people to have, then this should also be noted.
You need to consult a Solicitor to ensure that your Will is valid. There are special legal terms which may have to be used to ensure that your wishes are carried out exactly as you would like. A few of these are mentioned below. If you do not have a regular Solicitor, you should phone several firms to find out what they would charge - this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask.
Note any special instructions you may want to leave behind. These might relate to the kind of funeral arrangements you have in mind. For instance, do you want a religious or a secular service, burial in a special place, or cremation. What would you like to happen to your cremated remains afterwards? Especially important is the need to appoint guardians if you have dependent children.
The complete list of your assets (everything you own that you have noted down) is known as your estate. All of it needs to be distributed and looked after as you have asked. The people who do this for you are known as executors.
You can ask a member of your family, a friend, or a neighbour to be your executors, but it is very important to make sure that they are prepared to do so first. A Solicitor, bank or accountant could also be your executor, but they will charge a fee for that service. Sometimes, in certain circumstances, a charity such as Cruse will be able to act.
All executors are entitle to recover any costs from your estate which may be incurred in carrying out their duties.
Many people are naturally concerned that much of what they have carefully saved during their lifetime will be taken by the taxman after they die.
Because bequests to charities do not incur tax, in certain circumstances, particularly with larger estates, a bequest to a charity such as Cruse can bring positive tax advantages.
Tax regulations can, however, change with any budget. If you think your estate may be subject to Inheritance Tax, please make sure to review your Will, with the advice of your financial consultant or solicitor.
As it is not possible to purchase a grave in advance, the London Borough of Richmond offers a reservation scheme for those people who wish to take up this option. The reservation of any grave space is subject to availability.
The non-refundable fee to reserve a grave space is for a five year period. You may only reserve one grave space and it does not issue you with any rights to erect a memorial, place flowers or mark the grave space in any way. Each grave allows up to two full burials and subsequently eight cremated remains; Twickenham and Teddington cemeteries can offer up to four full burials, on request. The necessary cemetery fees are payable when the first burial is required. If there is a specific area of a cemetery in which you would like a grave, the cemetery office will attempt to locate one for you, on request.
Further information is available from the cemeteries office, or you may wish to complete the application form online