Do you want to decide how your estate should be distributed following your death and who should be responsible for making your funeral arrangements and administering your estate?
Would you like to include a legacy to a charity or a friend or loved one who would not inherit if you do not make a Will?
It is vitally important that you have a valid Will in place to ensure that your assets pass in accordance with your wishes. A Will allows you to decide what happens to your money, property and personal possessions after your death.
If you are looking to make a will, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us by emailing email@example.com or calling us on 020 3440 8000.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should make a Will?
Everyone with any assets or children for whom they wish to appoint a testamentary guardian.
Do I really need to make a Will, won’t my partner or children get everything anyway?
Yes you do need to make a Will if you want to decide how your estate is distributed. If you are not married to or in a civil partnership with your partner, your partner has no automatic rights of inheritance under the intestacy rules (see below). If you are single, widowed or divorced and have children, your estate will go to your children but it will go to them equally and this may not be your wish. If you are married or in a civil partnership and have children and your estate exceeds a certain amount, your entire estate will not pass to your spouse or civil partner if you do not have a Will and this could result in a liability to inheritance tax arising which could have been avoided if a Will had been made.
What happens if I don’t make a Will?
Your assets are distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules. These are determined by parliament. A person dies intestate if they die without a valid Will and testate if they die with a valid Will.
Do I really need a solicitor to make a Will?
There is no requirement to instruct a solicitor to make a Will. Most people find it helpful and it does ensure that you do not fail to think about things which are useful in connection with your Will and your beneficiaries and that the Will is properly executed so that it is a valid document. Your solicitor can also store your Will securely for you.
What is my estate?
Your estate is what you leave namely your assets, money, bank accounts, shares and properties less your liabilities e.g. outstanding mortgage, credit cards and other debts.
Who can I name in my Will and what can I give away?
The making of your Will is relatively unconstrained and you can name any beneficiaries you wish including charities. Some classes of people e.g. widows, widowers, surviving civil partners, surviving cohabitees and children can make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 if they feel that the provision made for them in a Will or under the intestacy rules is unreasonable.
What is an executor?
An executor is the person who is responsible for ensuring that your estate is properly administered; that all returns are made to HM Revenue and Customs; the Will is proved; liabilities are paid; and the remaining assets distributed in accordance with the terms of your Will. If there is no Will this person is called an administrator.
Can executors also be beneficiaries?
Yes. Executors can also be beneficiaries and very often are.
Who should I choose to be my witnesses?
That is a matter for you. The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the Will or married to, in a civil partnership with or living with them. They must be aged over 18, have mental capacity and be able to watch you sign your Will i.e. they cannot be blind. If you instruct a solicitor to prepare your Will you can sign the Will in their presence with one of their colleagues also in attendance.
What things should I include in my Will?
- Appointment of executors;
- Any financial gifts you may wish to make to godchildren, nieces, nephews, charities, schools, universities etc.
- The gift of any personal chattels whether of financial value or of sentimental value
- The division of the residue of your estate which is everything remaining in your estate once any specific gifts have been made
Who should I tell that I have made a Will?
The contents of your Will are confidential until you die unless you choose to share them. There is no requirement to tell anybody that you have made a Will but it is often useful if you speak to your executors so that they know their anticipated duty and that they know a Will has been made. We would advise that at the very least you tell your Executors that you have made a Will and where the original Will is kept so that they know where to locate this following your death.
I have property overseas, should I make a Will in England or abroad?
It is best to make a Will in England to deal with your English assets and a Will in the country in which your other assets are held. The freedom to make bequests varies from country to country and you should take legal advice in the country in which your assets are located.
What is a mirror Will?
This is an informal, not a legal phrase, used to describe the situation where two people make a Will which is almost identical but in reverse i.e. in one Will husband leaves everything to wife, in the other wife leaves everything to husband.
What is a trustee?
A trustee is a person who manages a trust. Trusts can arise under a Will. For example if the beneficiaries are minors, their beneficial interest will be held by the trustees until they reach the age specified in the Will. A trustee manages assets for the benefit of someone other than him/herself.
What is a guardian?
A guardian is a person appointed in a Will to look after the testator/testatrix’s children until they reach the age of majority.
Is there a central register of Wills?
No there is no central register of Wills. Certainty, a profit making company, is seeking to develop an informal register of Wills.