Why do I need a will?
The purpose of a will is to protect and distribute your estate. Your estate is made up of your money, possessions and any property you may own at the time of your death. A will gives specific and clear instructions to how you would like your estate to be distributed to any family, friends or loved ones. Without a will, the government then decides how these assets are to be distributed and they are usually not allotted how you would have wished.
What are ‘executors’ and who is able to be one?
An executor is the named individual/s that are tasked with distributing a deceased person’s property and residue that has been declared within said individuals last will & testament. They are also tasked with resolving any outstanding debts and expenses they might have had. Anybody you trust over the age of 18 is able to become your executor. This can range from close family members to your next door neighbour.
What are ‘intestacy’ rules?
When an individual dies without leaving a will, they are described as having died intestate. This means their estate will be distributed according to The Rules of Intestacy. In this instance, the deceased individuals’ estate is left in ‘limbo’ without anybody being able to resolve any of his/hers wishes. Therefore, the government takes it upon themselves to divide the individuals’ assets in accordance with the rules of intestacy. In most cases the individuals estate is distributed in a way that they would not have been happy with. Without a will, ex-husbands/wives, any estranged children or other unsavory family members can benefit from everything you’ve accumulated when alive.
I am married and my partner and I own everything jointly. Do we still need to write separate wills?
Making a joint will can work in some cases, but the potential pitfalls certainly outweigh any benefits. We can potentially predict future intentions, but after death of one party within a joint will, it can become very difficult to change that existing will, as both parties are no longer around to make the changes. Leaving you with your estate being distributed in a way you are no longer happy with. That is why we always recommend making separate wills, but wills that mirror one another. This means you can have two wills that can slightly differ in wishes and are able to be changed further down the line without the need of your deceased partner’s say-so. It makes a will more individualistic as you may own items solely and wish to gift those items to your own friends or family members.
I am still quite young; do I need to think about writing a will yet?
Absolutely! A common misconception is that because you’re young and fit you won’t be in need of a will until you’re a lot older. Unfortunately, there are going to be instances where being young and fit doesn’t always protect you from accidents that may happen in your life. Everything you have worked hard for up until that point will then be passed into the rules of intestacy and your estate will be distributed potentially against any wishes you may have thought about but never wrote down. Also, if you have children under the age of 18, those children will now be without a guardian to protect them in your absence and Social Services will become involved to look after your children. This is until somebody else is approved by them to take on the responsibility of guardianship. This is a serious issue that could have been resolved within your last will and testament.
What can I include in my will?
Whatever you would like. A will can cover a huge range of wishes that you may want to organise before you pass away.
What are the different types of ‘legacy’?
There are currently 8 different types of legacy that you are able to gift within your last will and testament.
- Business or Agricultural Property (i.e acres of land)
- Gift of Property (i.e residential or commercial property)
- Specific (i.e watches, jewellery, personal items)
- Memorandum for Personal Chattels
- Monetary (i.e £1000)
- Pets (i.e any pets in your possession)
- Gift of Bank Account/Shares
- Legacy of the RNRB (absolute)
Is my will still valid if I get a divorce?
Yes. However, we recommend that once you have had a divorce or are in the process of divorcing, you should review your last will and testament. This is due to many married couples designating each other as executors and beneficiaries within their wills, once your relationship has changed, you might want to think about if you would still like your now ex-husband/wife to be in receipt of any of your residue or estate if you pass away.
Is it imperative to involve a solicitor when writing my will, or can I do it myself?
It is not imperative that you involve a solicitor when writing your last will and testament. Legacy Wills & Estate Planning use highly trained will writers who are trained to a high standard to write your last will & testament and correspond with you throughout the drafting process.