Frequently Asked Questions on Wills online

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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 someone who makes a will ( Testator (male) or Testatrix (female).
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 then a guardian is then appointed to look after them. A guardian can be specified by you 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 that has sentimental value. There can be gifts of money that are for specific amounts. These are 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. Your signature must be witnessed by two other people who must be present with you as you sign. 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 and be UK citizens.
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.