A Will is not unusual, or something that only needs to be done by the very wealthy.
It is surprising then how many people still don’t have a Will, or drafted a Will so long ago that it may no longer be relevant. The article below answers some frequently asked questions about Wills.
I don't have to worry about it because I've already drafted a will.
Although creating a Will is a positive step and might bring peace of mind, it does not imply that the task is over.
Circumstances change as we get older. Some of the most important life events that should prompt a revision of your Will include marriage, divorce, death, having children (or grandchildren), and purchasing a property.
It is wise to think about reviewing your Will every five to ten years. This will give you time to consider whether the arrangements made are still appropriate or if any revisions might be needed. You can also consider whether any changes to the law, or changes in tax legislation may need to be taken account of in your Will and perhaps alter how your estate is dealt with upon your death.
You can get advice on this from your solicitor.
It's crucial to follow the correct procedure when making adjustments to your Will.
A new Will must be created or a codicil must be included in order to modify an existing Will.
Any new Will should state that all prior Wills are null and void.
Amendments to an existing Will need to be done by codicil, which must be attached to it.
I don't have to worry about creating a Will because I'm married.
While it is true that some assets pass to the surviving spouse automatically, this is not always the case and it can depend on how the assets are legally owned. Additionally, the absence of a Will does not cover the case of simultaneous deaths of spouses.
Wills can also be a useful estate planning tool, giving you the chance to transfer assets to a subsequent generation of your family. Your possessions may be subject to inheritance tax if you don't have a Will in place, which could have been avoided.
A Will can allow parents to name a guardian in addition to dealing with financial possessions. If no guardian is chosen and there is no remaining parent with parental responsibility, the Court will choose a guardian on behalf of the child. It's possible that you wouldn't have chosen this person yourself.
It is also important to remember that cohabiting couples who are not married or registered as civil partners do not have the same privileges. Without a Will, it's possible that your partner would not inherit anything upon your passing because they are not considered beneficiaries in the eyes of the law.
My Will prohibits beneficiaries from being executors.
The person or individuals you designate in your Will as your executors are accountable for managing your estate after your death. There is no restriction on the executor(s) getting a benefit from your Will; there can be one to four executors appointed. Some persons might decide to name a friend or a qualified Executor in place of one of the beneficiaries. Every family is unique, thus the decision about the executors is entirely up to the testator.
Carla Wyatt is a paralegal within our Wills team. If you would like further information call Carla on 0800 046 9976.