Wills, Probate & Trusts FAQs
The prospect of creating a Will can be a daunting one, but it needn't be.
Our dedicated team of Will writing experts are on hand to guide you throughout the process and have answered some of the most common questions they get asked below.
Wills, Probate & Trusts - Do I need a Will?
Many will ask themselves 'do I need a Will?' Whether you have a penny or pounds to your name, you should have a Will, as this is the only way to ensure that your estate and everything in it goes to the person or people you want it to.
If you have children, your Will can state who should become guardians, and the same goes for any pets you might have.
If you don’t have a Will in place, there are rules that dictate how your assets will be divided (these are called the rules of intestacy), which can lead to important people in your life inheriting nothing, including your partner if you aren’t married or in a civil partnership. The rules do not always have the fairest outcome, so it’s always best for you to decide (by writing a Will) rather than it being left to chance.
What happens if I don’t have a Will?
A common question that will be asked when discussing this subject is 'what happens if I don't have a Will?' The rules of intestacy will dictate the outcome of your estate if you don't have a valid Will in place by the time of your death. This can result in the fracturing of relationships between loved ones if they disagree with the legal ruling, as well as a lot of confusion, frustration, and anxiety around the process. This will all be happening in a time of grief following your death.
Unless you have discussed it with them, your family may not know what you want to happen to your body, or what type of funeral service you would prefer.
In short, having a Will gives certainty and guidance that your wishes will be carried out after you die. It also ensures that the most important people in your life receive the inheritance you want them to, regardless of their relationship to you.
Who can write a Will?
When considering who can write a Will, you should note that you must be over 18 to make a Will. However, there are some exceptions. If you are under 18, then you wouldn't be eligible.
Is a Will legally binding?
When answering the question 'is a Will legally binding?' the short answer is yes. A Will is a record of your wishes and what you want to happen when you die and becomes legally binding once it is signed and witnessed correctly.
Can a Will be challenged?
Yes, it is possible for a Will to be challenged and this is a growing area where we see more challenges happening.
If you feel your estate may be at risk of a challenge, as you are not leaving provisions for someone who may expect to inherit, then you should speak to a member of our team who can provide bespoke advice on your circumstances.
Who can be a beneficiary of my Will?
Everyone who makes a Will has the freedom to make their own choices, so you can name anyone you like as a beneficiary.
You should consider who might be financially dependent on you, as it is important you make provision for people who rely on you. Otherwise, they could have a claim on your estate.
What should I include in my Will?
Our expert team will guide you through everything you should consider when drafting your Will.
It’s really important to include details of who you want to be your executors, a full description of your wishes, and, generally speaking, your Will should include the following:
- Appointment of executors
- Funeral directions
- Appointment of guardians (if you have children) or provisions for pets (if relevant)
- Any specific gifts
- Any monetary gifts
- What you would like to happen to your residuary estate
It is really helpful to add substitute provisions for both executors and residue to make sure your Will is as long-lasting as possible and doesn’t result in a partial intestacy.
Can I make a Will without a solicitor?
You can make a Will without the input of a solicitor, but for peace of mind when dealing with complex legal and financial processes it is perhaps better to seek the advice of a legal professional. By doing so, you mitigate the chances of the document being successfully challenged later down the line and you ensure all elements are accounted for correctly and in line with legal requirements.
This is particularly prevalent when dealing with a more complex estate than the standard.
What is Inheritance Tax and who pays it?
Inheritance Tax is a tax that is paid on an individual’s estate when it is worth more than £325,000 when they die. There are a number of additional exemptions and reliefs available and, in some circumstances, this £325,000 can be extended by use of the Residence Nil Rate Band.
Inheritance Tax is paid using funds from your estate and is dealt with by your executor(s), or the person dealing with your estate if there isn’t a valid Will.
How often should I update my Will?
When considering 'when should I update my Will?' we recommend you do so every five years, or if/when any of the following happen:
- You get married or form a civil partnership after the date of your Will, as it will be automatically revoked and you will need to make a new Will.
- You get divorced or have your marriage or civil partnership annulled. In most cases, any entitlement of your former husband/wife/civil partner will be automatically cancelled and any desires or requests to them will lapse, in which case you would need to amend your Will.
- Your estate materially changes in value.
- You have children.
- Any appointment in your Will becomes unsuitable or fails due to the death or incapacitation of anyone mentioned.
Can you challenge a Will?
A common question is 'can you challenge a Will?' Wills can be challenged if they are invalid due to not being signed, dated or witnessed correctly; if there are concerns on capacity; or people can challenge a Will if they consider they are dependent and entitled to reasonable provision.
View our guide by clicking here.
If you have any other questions, please contact the team today and they'll be happy to help.