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When should I draft a will?

It can be complicated to know when exactly you should write your will. It’s ideal to have it written early on when you gain your assets, but it should also be late enough that you’re able to cover all the assets that you have. 

Many people will be quite early on in their careers as business owners and, therefore, might feel it’s too early to make a will. Essentially, it’s up to a business owner, according to their plans for their estate, to choose when they will write their will. Reassuringly, you can always update your will (by amending it or creating a new one) to make any changes that you want. So, if you’re concerned that it may be too early to write your will, you may want to err on the side of caution and create one anyway, knowing that any wishes you include in the will can be amended if your situation later changes. 

You can make your will using Rocket Lawyer’s Last will and testament for England and Wales or Last will and testament for Scotland. If you want a bespoke will drafted, consider using Rocket Lawyer’s Will drafting service.

It’s important to pick heirs

As part of estate planning, business owners need to consider what will happen after they need to step down from their posts or when they come into unexpected situations where they would no longer be in their positions. This means that you need to plan who will take the reins when it comes to it. However, there’s no guarantee that the beneficiaries (ie heirs) you choose will want to take over your position. This is why you need to consider a few factors to determine who will be the right choice. For example:

  • who genuinely wants to take on the business?

  • are there several candidates that it could be passed on to?

  • will there be any tax implications involved?

It’s a big decision to make, so if you’re unsure at any point in the process, you can easily discuss the matter with contentious probate lawyers who can help you every step of the way.

You can also use Rocket Lawyer’s Probate service.

Tax planning

When writing your will, there will be tax guidelines that you’ll need to consider, especially if you plan on retiring around the same time that you write your will. For example, the pension lifetime allowance shouldn’t be exceeded when retiring. Otherwise, you’ll generally find yourself paying more tax. 

Inheritance tax (IHT) that’s due on your assets could also impose a large burden on your heirs, which you should be aware of. You may consider giving some of your assets as a gift during your lifetime - although this has tax implications of its own.

For more information, read Estate planning.

Use your will to set goals to guide your business

Writing a will can provide you with the opportunity to set out your long-term plans for your business. You’ll be able to provide instructions on how you expect your business to be maintained when you die. For example, you’ll probably want the ethos and values of the business to continue. Neglecting such aspects could ruin the future of the business in the long term.

Can I change my will?

In order for your current circumstances to be reflected in your will, it’s important that your will is kept up to date. This means you may need to make a new will when big changes occur in your life, like getting married or having children.

You can either use a Codicil to make minor changes to an existing will or you can make a new will for England and Wales or for Scotland.

For more information, read Different types of will documents and Making your will. Do not hesitate to Ask a lawyer if you have any questions.

Jamie Costello
Jamie Costello
Freelance writer

Jamie Costello is an experienced business and law freelance writer.

During his time in education and work, he's worked alongside businesses and law firms, which have helped to develop his knowledge of their topic areas. When he's not writing, he enjoys reading and listening to podcasts.

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