A brief guide which examines ten key points that should be considered when drafting aWill.
1. What is an Executor?
An executor is the person you choose to administer your estate after your death.
They have personal responsibility for:
- Making funeral arrangements;
- Making all necessary enquiries to establish the nature and value of your assets and liabilities;
- Paying any Inheritance Tax from estate funds;
- Making the application for Probate;
- Paying all debts and liabilities from estate funds; and
- Distributing your estate in accordance with your Will.
Being an Executor can be an onerous task. Careful consideration is needed to select the most appropriate people.
2. Who can be an Executor?
You can appoint any combination of lay Executors (e.g. friends, family etc) and professional Executors (e.g. solicitors).
An Executor can also be a beneficiary of your Will.
3. What is a Guardian?
If you have parental authority over a child you are able to appoint one or more persons to be Guardians at your death to take care of your child until they reach the age of 18 years.
If, at your death, there is someone who also has parental authority over your child the appointment of your Guardian will not take effect until that other person has also died.
In the event of a dispute between preferred Guardians and anyone with parental authority, a Court will ultimately resolve the matter.
4. What types of Gift can I make?
Your Will can contain any type and number of bequests. Common wishes include:
- Cash legacies;
- Specific legacies of personal effects;
- Contingent legacies (e.g. the beneficiary shall not receive anything until they reach the age of 25 years);
- Protective trusts (for vulnerable beneficiaries or as part of a comprehensive estate planning exercise);
- Gifts to Charitable organisations.
5. Do I need a Trust?
Trusts can be used to achieve a variety of different outcomes. Every Trust can be designed to suit your individual circumstances and provide as much control over your assets as you would want.
Examples of why you might want to consider a Trust are:
- Concerns over nursing care fee assessment for your surviving spouse or other beneficiaries;
- Concerns over your intended beneficiary’s ability to manage finances;
- Providing for beneficiaries born after your death (e.g. additional grandchildren);
- Maintaining flexibility over the distribution of your assets; or
- Providing an income stream for specific individuals
6. What is a witness? Who are the best people to witness my Will?
When you are happy with your Will and you are ready to sign and date the document, you will need two people (over the age of 18 years) to witness your signature. Both witnesses need to be present at the signing of the Will and you and they must observe each signature.
Your witnesses do not need to read the content of your Will and must not be beneficiaries. They should also be independent 3rd parties and not related to you.
7. Does my Will need to be amended if an address changes?
Any change to your address or that of your Executors, Guardians or Beneficiaries does not require changes to be made to your Will. Keeping a note of the changes with the original Will would suffice.
8. Codicils – what are they?
In the event that you need to make a change to the provisions in your Will, you should first consider the complexity and significance of the change.
It is possible to make insubstantial changes to an existing Will by creating a Codicil, which is a legal document that must satisfy the same formalities as a Will to be effective.
A new Will is strongly recommended should you need to make substantial changes to your Will (e.g. to the distribution of your residuary estate or the incorporation of a trust). It is important to seek specific advice from a qualified specialist before deciding whether a Codicil would suit your circumstances.
9. What happens if I marry or enter into a Civil Partnership?
If you marry or enter into a civil partnership after creating a Will, the Will is automatically revoked (cancelled) unless it specifically provided for the event. It is therefore important to seek specific advice on this point if you are planning such an event.
10. Where should I store my Will?
Your Will is an important document. It is strongly recommended that the original is kept in a secure, fireproof location. It is also recommended that you keep a certified copy with your other documents (e.g. insurance documents) so that your Executors can easily locate this after your death.
Contact us about our Inheritance & Welfare Team who can advise you today.
Please call 0800 916 9055, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Wills and Probate Specialists operate across the country and can offer immediate and accessible representation anywhere in the UK.
By Ciara Hannawin, Inheritance & Welfare Expert.