Having a will makes things easier for loved ones who are left behind following your death. It ensures that your estate (money, property and possessions) is divided amongst those you wish to receive it. But what do you need to consider to make a will in Scotland?

1. Who do you want to appoint as your executors?

An executor is a person or organisation (such as a company) that is appointed in your will. Your executors are responsible for dealing with the administration of your estate and transferring your estate to your beneficiaries according to the terms of your will. This is an administrative role. Your executors can be the same people as your beneficiaries, and you can have more than one executor. It is recommended to have more than one executor, or a substitute executor in case your chosen executor is unable to act for you.

2. Where do you want your assets to go?

Your beneficiaries are the people who you want to inherit your estate. You can leave specific items or cash sums known as legacies to specific people. Alternatively, you can leave a share of your estate to one person or a number of people. You may wish to leave your estate to a charity , or a number of charities. If you have young beneficiaries who you wish to leave a part of your estate to, it is useful to decide an age at which you would like them to inherit your estate (the most common age being 18 or 21). It is also useful to think about back up beneficiaries in the event your named beneficiaries die before you.

3. Do I need to consider legal rights?

Legal rights apply in Scotland and are a form of forced inheritance which prevent spouses and children from being disinherited. For example, if you leave your whole estate to your spouse or civil partner, your children would be entitled to their legal rights. Legal rights apply regardless of the terms of your will. Legal rights apply only to the moveable estate (e.g. bank/building society accounts, investments, cash life policies etc). Heritable property (e.g. the family home) is not subject to legal rights. It is up to your spouse and/or children to decide if they want to claim or discharge these rights after your death. If you have concerns about legal rights, we can offer advice and assistance.

4. Do I need to consider Inheritance tax?

Individuals have a nil rate band for inheritance tax purposes of £325,000 and an additional allowance of £175,000 for a main residence passing to a linear descendant, such as a child. Generally, any assets in excess of this will be subject to inheritance tax at a flat rate of 40%. Transfers between spouses are not subject to inheritance tax and these allowances are transferable between spouses. There are other reliefs available for certain situations, such as for legacies to charities , so it is important to consider your individual situation. If you are worried that you may be liable for inheritance tax, there are steps you can take when preparing your will to mitigate inheritance tax.

5. Should I have a trust in my will?

There are different types of trusts that can be created within your will, and the suitability of a trust depends on each individual and their wishes. A trust is a way of managing and protecting assets for particular beneficiaries, such as young children. Having a trust in place can provide control over when and how a particular beneficiary receives their inheritance. A trust can help protect assets if there was a matrimonial breakdown and can also be used as a tax planning tool.

Making a will in Scotland is very easy to do using Wills by Brodies. Taking you step by step through the process, Wills by Brodies lets you start to write a Scottish will online with costs starting at £180.