A Will is a written document made by a person before their death, which is intended to reflect their wishes as to who they wish to inherit
their estate on their death.
A testator is a male who makes a Will. A testatrix is a female who makes a Will.
A testatrix is a female who makes a Will. A testator is a male who makes a Will.
A beneficiary (beneficiaries - plural) is the term used to refer to the individual or individuals who are to receive a legacy or benefit from a Will.
If a person hasn’t made a Will during their lifetime, it can be said that they have died intestate.
Similarly, if a person has made a Will and that Will is said to be invalid when they die, then that person is also said to have died intestate.
If you die without making a valid Will then your estate will be subject to intestacy rules.
As a consequence, a person who you will have wanted to inherit from your estate on your death may not be the person who actually inherits
under the rules of intestacy.
Executors are individuals that are appointed within your Will to deal with all aspects of your estate after you’ve passed away.
Executors will ensure that all your assets are accounted for and if you are owed money they will request that your estate gets this money and
forms part of your estate after you have died. Additionally, they will ensure that if you have any debts that these are paid off from your estate.
When all the money has been accounted for and paid into your estate and any debts and funeral expenses have been paid, the estate will then be
distributed in accordance with your will.
If you die leaving children then, if there is no other person living who has parental responsibility, a guardian is appointed to look after them.
You can specify a guardian in your Will.
You don’t have to leave anything for your children. However, if young children or any other person or persons rely on you for their care or
financial situation, then it is possible for them or their representative to make a claim against your estate for Reasonable Financial Provision
under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
There are three types of gifts that can be bequeathed within a Will. These can be specific gifts such as a teapot, watch or painting,
for example, which has sentimental value. There can be gifts of money that are for specific amounts (known as pecuniary gifts).
Finally, there are what are deemed to be residuary gifts that consist of everything that remains in the estate after all debts,
funeral expenses, costs, fees etc. have been paid out of your estate.
If you have given a gift away that is in your will during your lifetime then that gift will not be available and the gift will fail in your Will.
If you have no money left in your estate then all gifts will fail.
Executors appointed by you in your Will are usually appointed as Trustees as well. Trustees are given the task of holding assets in
trust for young children who are beneficiaries of the will until such time as they have reached the age of majority, or the age
stipulated that they are due to benefit from the estate. Trustees will also hold in trust assets that other beneficiaries are due
to benefit from the deceased person’s estate.
Your Will becomes a legal valid and binding document as soon as it has been signed correctly in accordance with the Wills Act 1837.
Two other people, who must be present with you as you sign, must witness your signature. Witnesses MUST NOT BE BENEFICIARIES.
Witnesses must NOT be the SPOUSE of a beneficiary. Nobody who may benefit from your Will can be allowed to act as a witness.
If this happens any legacy or benefit they may have received will be LOST and become part of the remaining estate.
The witnesses are only confirming that it is your signature - they do not need to read the Will and all other clauses can be covered up if required.
Witnesses should also be sure that you know what you are doing - they must be confident that you have READ your Will and that you are SOBER
and of SOUND MIND.
Witnesses are also confirming that the signature is YOUR CHOICE - there must be no question of any outside influence persuading you to sign.
Your witnesses should be aged 18 years or over.
If you want to change your Will then you can make a codicil to your Will, which can be used to amend your previous Will.
In some instances it is better to prepare a new will instead of making a codicil as many times within a couple of years of the executed Will
there will have been changes of address of beneficiaries or additional family members that the testator will wish to benefit from their estate.
Accordingly, it may be best to draft a new Will instead of making a codicil.
A LPA is a Lasting Power of Attorney, a legal document giving someone you trust the authority to make decisions on your behalf if you lack mental
capacity at some time in the future, or no longer wish to make decisions for yourself. A basic standard LPA includes:
Details of who you want to be your attorneys (the people you want to make decisions about your healthcare, properties and finances)
Specific guidance about what exactly you want to happen regarding your care, your properties and your finances to help your attorneys make decisions on your behalf
There are three types of LPA: a Property and Financial LPA; a Health and Welfare LPA and a Business LPA.
You can find out more about LPAs in our blog Have You And Your Loved Ones got LPAS?
The Government is currently carrying out a public consultation on modernising Will writing law and inviting opinions and contributions from
You can find out how to contribute to this in our blog Want To Help Modernise Will writing Law?
The rules are the same for Civil Partners as they are for married spouses in England and Wales. The best way to ensure your civil partner
inherits everything you want them to (and not just what the law dictates they have a right to), you need to write a Will. You can find out
more in our blog Inheritance, Civil Partnerships and Living Together.
If you die without a Will, your common law partner will not inherit anything. To ensure they inherit what you intend them to, you need to
write a Will. You can find out more in our blog Inheritance, Civil Partnerships and Living Together.
Yes. Our ActiveWills online template, designed in conjunction with SRA regulated solicitors working for a CLC registered organisation
overcomes all risks though. Find out more in our blog The Danger of DIY Wills.
By writing a Letter of Intent (aka a Letter of Wishes).
A Letter of Wishes is a document that accompanies your Will. It is not legally binding but can guide your executors and trustees to ensure
your personal wishes are carried out. It best way to discretely provide explanations as to why you have excluded someone from your Will,
if you think that it may be a controversial decision or challenged later.
Of course, you can always state why you have excluded someone in your Will, but doing so means anyone can read this once the Will is
processed through probate. In our experience, there are very few people who wish to punish family members they’ve chosen to exclude
by placing the reason for their decision in the public domain.
Find out more in our blog Lessons Learnt from Recent Charity Wills Judgment.
Planning for partners to inherit you ISAs is a tax efficient thing to do. However, some banks and building societies pay less interest on ISA
cash inherited by bereaved spouses than on normal ISA savings. You can find out more in our blog 7 Things to Know About Inherited ISAs.
The current threshold for IHT is £325,000. You have to pay 40% tax on anything above this amount.
Some solicitors are advising against Mirror Wills because by their nature you leave everything to a partner and in doing so you
are trusting your estate to them with the potential that during their lifetime it may be frittered away, given to people you
would not have chosen, used up for care fees or passed on to a new spouse.
We detail when a Mirror Will might not be the best choice in our blog Mirror Mirror on the Wall.
You can protect your loved ones from challenges to your Will by making sure you follow our precise instructions re getting your Will
witnessed in our online Will writing template. You can also write a Letter of Intent (aka Letter of Wishes), as explained more in our
blog Lessons Learnt from Recent Charity Wills Judgment.
Writing a Will online is easy and there is no easier way to review, revise and reprint your Will as your life circumstances change.
We share more about the benefits of online Will writing in our blog 5 Reasons to Buy Your Will Online.
As time goes by, your life situation changes. A Will that serves you when you are single, will no longer protect your best interests
when you become part of a committed relationship, get married (divorced or remarried), have children (adopt or gain step-children or
step-grandchildren), buy properties or own businesses. We recommend reviewing your estate plan every two years and whenever you
experience one of these life changes.
Probate is the process of sorting out someone’s estate, their property, money and possessions, after they have died.
Not always! The Money Advice Service offers some great advice on this, but in short, make sure you follow the law when it comes to
getting your Will witnessed and, no matter how you write your Will or who you use to write it, make sure the provider is regulated
(many cheap online Wills are not provided by solicitors and therefore are not regulated).
Dying intestate means dying without a Will. When you die without a Will the courts of law decide who inherits your estate using archaic
intestacy rules. Dying intestate delays the sharing of your estate. If there is an Inheritance Tax liability, or any debts to pay, such
as your mortgage or other loans, then the courts will hold your estate until all is paid.