Sometimes when a person is making their will they want to refer to a list of their property which is being left to particular beneficiaries. For example, the list could include their jewellery or household contents with various pieces of jewellery or furniture being left to particular individuals. People may want to have these items listed out on a list separate to the will. A further example of a document that could be referred to in a will could be a map where lands marked in a certain colour are to pass to one beneficiary and those in another colour to a second beneficiary.
How do you ensure the separate list or document is valid?
In order for this list or other document to be effective, it must actually be in existence at the time the will is executed. These documents should be clearly incorporated into the will so that they will take effect when the person making the will has died. The list or map or other document must be submitted to the Probate Office with the original will when the estate is being administered. Both the list and the will become a matter of public record once the will has been admitted to probate.
Are there any dangers in taking this approach?
Using a list to distribute items of your property is fraught with danger. It is much safer for all concerned to insert a list of specific bequests into the will itself rather than having a separate document. However this may not be possible where a map is concerned. If the list cannot be found after the person’s death, it will have no effect and will not be admitted to probate.
A person making a will may prefer to keep their affairs private and if this is the case a better approach may be to establish a discretionary trust under the will with a letter of wishes setting out the person’s wishes for their assets. However this course of action should only be followed after careful legal and tax advice is obtained.