Gifts of assets and personal possessions

This section will not appear if you answered "Yes" to the first Beneficiaries question.

The interview will ask if you want all your personal assets and possessions to pass to the same people as inherit your residuary estate. It may be that you would like some specific items to pass to nominated people. The sorts of things this might refer to are:

  • pictures
  • cars
  • shares
  • jewellery
  • the balance of a bank or savings account (but not a specific amount of cash)
  • any other personal items.

It doesn't include houses, land and so on: those are real property and are dealt with separately.

Nor does it usually include pensions and life insurance policies that are set up to pay out directly to members of your family: if you want to specify who you like to benefit from those you should consult your insurer or pension provider.

If you have chosen to leave all your personal possessions to the same person or persons as will receive your residuary estate, there will not be any specific gifts of items mentioned in your will.

However, if you do want to leave some specific items to people, you can choose to do so in your will or in a letter of wishes.

The advantage of using a letter of wishes is that it remains a private document after your death, whereas your will is public after you die. You can amend a letter of wishes at any time without the need to go through the formalities that would be required to amend your will. If you choose this option, you'll be asked to specify who will be responsible for distributing the assets. You can select your trustees (who are usually the executors) or designate another person.

If there are only a few gifts you wish to make and you do not mind the gifts being public, you may find it easier to include them in your will.

If you choose to include the gifts in your will, you will need to decide whether the items will pass to the intended recipients free of inheritance tax. Any inheritance tax due on the gift will be paid by your estate if the gift is stated to be tax-free. This will affect the amount that is left to distribute to the principal beneficiaries of your will.

Some shares may attract 50% or 100% business property relief so may not be subject to inheritance tax at all, or at a reduced rate. For more information, see our page Inheritance tax relief.

You will need to include a description of each item you wish to give away (e.g. my gold watch, my bank account No. 12345678, etc). You will also need the name and address of each recipient and their relationship to you (e.g. your nephew, granddaughter, etc).

If you want to leave cash gifts to nominated individuals (e.g. ‘£10,000 to my niece’), you should use the Cash gifts section of the interview.

For more information, see our page Gifts in wills.