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What to include in your will

You must make it absolutely clear what you want to happen to your whole estate. You can make specific gifts to particular people and then state where the residue of the estate (any property or money left over) is to go.

Alternatively, you could divide your estate between a number of people in certain proportions, e.g. half to your spouse and a quarter each to your two children. You should also state what you want to happen if a beneficiary should die before you do.

Valuing your estate

Before making a will, it’s worth drawing up a list of your assets and debts. This will give you a clearer idea of what your estate will be worth.

Assets that typically make up an estate include:

  • your home and any other properties you own
  • savings in bank and building society accounts
  • insurance, such as life assurance or an endowment policy
  • pension funds that include a lump sum payment on death
  • National Savings, such as premium bonds
  • investments such as stocks and shares or investment trusts
  • motor vehicles
  • jewellery, antiques and other personal belongings
  • furniture and household contents.

Debts may include:

  • mortgage
  • credit card balance
  • bank overdraft
  • loans
  • equity release.

Get your assets valued regularly, because your house price or pension fund, for instance, may have increased dramatically without you realising.

Leaving a legacy

Once they have provided for their family and friends, many people choose to leave legacies to their favourite charities. A legacy is simply a donation made in a will.

Different types of legacies include:

  • residual – a proportion of your estate
  • pecuniary – a set sum of money
  • specific – a named item, such as a house, gold watch, or piece of furniture.

If you plan to leave a legacy to a charity, make sure you include the charity’s full name, address and registered charity number. Incorrect information may result in the charity not receiving the legacy. Find out more about leaving a legacy to Age UK

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Further information


Our Information guides are short and easy to digest, giving a comprehensive overview of the relevant topic. Factsheets are longer with more detail, and are aimed at professionals.

You can download other guides in our series from publications

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 678 1174

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