When making a will, there are some key words and phrases which may not be familiar but are important for giving legal effect to your wishes.


Your beneficiaries are the individuals, trusts, organisations or charities that you wish to receive your estate (i.e. everything you own at the time of your death) when you die. They are named in your will (full name and address). Beneficiaries can inherit your cash, property, investments or even a pet.


Your executors are chosen and appointed by you in your will. They administer your estate following your death and distribute your assets on your behalf. They are responsible for ensuring your assets are distributed to your named beneficiaries according to your will instructions. An executor can also be a beneficiary under your will. An executor should be someone you trust and who is suitable for the role. They can be a family member, friend, professional or a trustee company (such as Brodies & Co. (Trustees) Limited).


Trustees perform a similar role to executors but are named 'trustees' when a trust is included within your will. While an executor administers and distributes your estate, if a trust is included in your will (such as a young beneficiaries trust for your children) your trustees will continue to administer and look after the assets held in trust once the administration of your estate is complete.


A trust is a way of protecting and managing your assets. Using a trust within your will is useful in many circumstances. For example, trusts can be used where your chosen beneficiaries are old enough to legally inherit but perhaps too young to manage the money themselves. Another use is to protect assets for a particular beneficiary who may squander their inheritance or a beneficiary who suffers from a disability. Including a trust within a will provides additional protection of assets and allows your chosen trustees to look after the funds for the benefit of your chosen beneficiaries.


A legacy is the term used to describe an amount of money or a particular item you wish to leave to someone in your will. You can include a legacy of a sum of cash or an item e.g. jewellery, a painting or a property. You can leave legacies to a particular individual, or to a charity.


Subject to any legacies you wish to include in your will, the residue is the remainder of your estate after the legacies have been distributed. This is usually the largest part of your estate and includes your house, land and buildings, cash, bank accounts, personal effects, investments as well as business assets and shareholdings.


If you have children under the age of 16, it is recommended that you appoint a guardian in your will to look after your children in the event of your death. This allows you to choose who you would like to look after your children and avoids the involvement of the court.

Appointing a power of attorney or 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 or appoint your power of attorney online at a time that suits you.