John’s father Darren passed away. John met with his father’s lawyer to discuss his father’s Will and what the next steps were.

The Will said that John was to be the executor of Darren’s estate and to receive all the proceeds of the estate. However, there was no list of assets in Darren’s Will (which is normal, we do not recommend that you list particular assets in your Will!) or kept with his Will.

Darren had always been a very private person and had never been comfortable with discussing his financial affairs in detail. John therefore did not know which bank his father was with, thought he had some shares but was not sure in which company, and believed his father was going to inherit some land from a great uncle after the great uncle’s partner’s life interest expired, but was not sure of the arrangement or who was looking after the great uncle’s estate.

In most cases specific assets will only be mentioned in a Will if that particular asset is being gifted to a person (such as a particular piece of jewellery). Other assets will not be specified in the Will and anything that is not left as a specific gift will become part of the ‘residue’ (balance) of the estate.

We do not recommend that your Will itself list assets that are not specific gifts, as your assets can change over time and it would be a pain to update your Will every time you sold or bought shares or changed banks.  There is also a risk that you will miss an asset or the value of an asset changes over time (so you may unintentionally leave more to a one child when you intended for the distribution to be fairly equal).

Instead, we recommend that you keep an up to date list of your assets, either with your Will, or separately somewhere safe, so that when you do pass away your executors will know who they need to contact about your death, and can collect all your assets. Here is a form that you could use for this purpose

There is also the issue of overseas assets, which you will also need to list. Please see our article here: (this is another draft article right now[hyperlink to be added])

This is why it is always important to carefully think about what assets you have before drafting your Will, then discuss it with your solicitor.

That way you can come up with a plan on how to most effectively deal with your assets so that there are no issues down the line.  You can even send your solicitor lists of your assets as they change, and we can store the list with your Will so that the information is there for your executor when you pass away.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Andie Donnelly and Charlotte Cameron