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Leaving assets in your Will
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Home / Making a Will / Creating your Will / Leaving assets in your Will

By making a will you have the opportunity to ensure that your “assets” (property, money or belongings that you own) are inherited by your chosen beneficiaries when you die.

As a general rule you can leave your assets and any interest you may have in an asset to who ever you wish. However, there are some exceptions to this. This article covers some of the types of assets which you can and cannot leave in your will.

Jointly owned property

Property can be jointly owned in one of 2 ways. The joint owners can own the property as “joint tenants” or as “tenants in common”.

Where property is owned by tenants in common each co-owner is free to leave his or her share of the property to who ever they wish.

Where property is owned by joint tenants upon the death of one of the owners their share passes automatically to the other joint tenant or tenants. This is the case even if the owner has made a will purporting to leave his or her share of the property to another person.

Statutory tenancies

A “statutory tenancy” gives a tenant the right (subject to certain conditions) to remain in occupation of a property for as long as they wish, provided they pay their rent and comply with the other conditions of their tenancy. Such tenancies are no longer granted, however, there are still some around. Most statutory tenancies in existence these days came about following the expiry of a tenancy granted under the Rent Act 1977.

If you are the original tenant of the property (i.e. you didn’t inherit the tenancy yourself) your spouse or civil partner or a person who lives with you as your spouse or civil partner can inherit the statutory tenancy. Any other member of your family who has lived in the property for at least 2 years before your death can also inherit the tenancy as long as you are the original tenant. However, such a person will be given an assured periodic tenancy rather than a statutory tenancy.

If you are the successor to the original tenant any member of your family who has lived in the property for at least 2 years before your death can inherit the tenancy as long as that person was also a member of the original tenant’s family. In such circumstances the person will be given an assured periodic tenancy rather than a statutory tenancy.

Assured tenancies

Spouses, civil partners and cohabitees can inherit an assured tenancy as long as you are the original tenant.

Agricultural tenancies

If you are a tenant under an agricultural tenancy your family may be able to inherit the tenancy when you die. The rules relating to succession of agricultural tenancies are complex and it is recommended that legal advice be obtained from a specialist in this field.

Friendly society nominations

If you are a member of a friendly society and are at least 16 years old, you can specify a person to whom money in the society is to be paid on your death. This is known as a “nomination”.

A friendly society nomination cannot be revoked by a will unless the original will is left at the registered office of the society. A nomination is automatically revoked, however, if the nominator marries or enters into a civil partnership.

Savings bank nominations

Prior to 1 May 1981 holders of savings banks had the power to specify a person to whom money in the account is to be paid on their death as long as they were 16 years old or more. This is known as a “nomination”. Savings bank nominations can no longer be made but any made before that date remain effective.

A savings bank nomination cannot be revoked by a will. A nomination can be revoked in certain circumstances, for example it is automatically revoked if the nominator marries or enters into a civil partnership.

Insurance policies

Normally a person can leave monies payable on an insurance policy to who ever they wish in their will. However, the terms of some insurance policies may provide otherwise.

Pension schemes

Normally the terms of a pension scheme give an employee the power to nominate a person who they would wish to receive an amount in the event that he or she dies before becoming entitled to his or her pension.

Shares

If you own shares in a company you will be able to leave those shares to who ever you wish unless the articles of association of the company provide otherwise. Often there are restrictions placed in the case of private limited companies.

Interests under another will

If you are a beneficiary under another person’s will you can generally leave your interest under that will to another person.

Assets not owned by you

You cannot leave assets not owned by you, for example a car which is leased, to another person.

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Single Will or Mirror Wills?

If you are a couple and wish to leave all your assets to each other then you could save money by making  Mirror Wills. You can also use Mirror Wills if you whish to leave your estate to the same beneficiaries. 
 
If you wish to leave different legacies, appoint different executors or you would like to specify individual funeral wishes then you will need to make two Single Wills.
single will mirror will