Questions and Answers
Here are some answers to some of the frequently asked questions we receive. Read through these FAQs and if we have not answered you questions then email us or call today for advice. We will even visit you in your own home at an agreed time for your convenience.
What should be included in a Will
You should consider such things as:
How much money and what property and possessions you have. For example, property, savings, occupational and personal pensions, insurance policies, bank and building society accounts and shares.
Who do you want to benefit from your Will? You should make a list of all the people to whom you wish to leave money or possessions. These people are known as beneficiaries. You also need to consider whether you wish to leave any money to charity.
Who should look after any children under 18? In your Will you can appoint guardians to look after your children until they reach the age of 18. Without a will the State will decide this. This is probably the most important reason why ALL younger people should have a Will.
Who is going to sort out the estate and carry out your wishes as set out in the Will? These people are known as the executors (see below).
What are executors? Executors are the people who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes and for sorting out the estate. They will have to collect together all the assets of the estate, deal with all the paperwork and pay all the debts, taxes, funeral and administration costs out of money in the estate.
Who to choose as executors?
It is common to appoint two, but up to four executors can take on responsibility for administering the Will after a death.
It is important to choose executors with considerable care since their job involves a great deal of work and responsibility. You should always approach anyone you are thinking of appointing as an executor to see if they will agree to take on the responsibility. If someone is appointed who is not willing to be an executor or can’t act, they have a right to refuse. It is usually wise to appoint a professional as reserve executor.
Requirements for a valid Will
In order for a Will to be valid, it must be:
Made by a person who is 18 years old or over.
Made voluntarily and without pressure from any other person.
Made by a person who is of sound mind. This means the person must be fully aware of the nature of the document being written and signed and aware of the identity of the people who may inherit.
Signed by the person making the Will in the presence of two witnesses.
A witness or the married partner of a witness cannot benefit from a Will.
As soon as the Will is signed and witnessed, it is complete.
If someone makes a Will but it is not legally valid, on their death their estate will be shared out under certain rules (the Laws of Intestacy), not according to the wishes expressed in the Will.
It is important to remember that only the ORIGINAL WILL (signed and properly witnessed) is a valid legal document…………no matter how many copies of the original Will you have none of these is legally valid. Therefore it is vital that you keep your Will safe in a place where it can be located easily when needed. See “Where to keep a Will” below.
Where to keep a Will
Once a Will has been made, it should be kept in a safe place and other documents should not be attached to it. There are a number of places where you can keep a Will:
At home (not recommended)………storing a Will at home holds the risk that it could be lost or damaged, or potentially be tampered with.
With a solicitor (not recommended)………storing a Will with solicitor can be very expensive. Additionally, many would also expect to do the probate which can increase the cost even further.
At a bank (not recommended)………(as per solicitor)
IWC Probate Services (IWC)………IWC provides our clients with a secure storage option so that there is no danger of Wills being lost or not found. Clients taking advantage of this option also qualify for free annual updates and changes to their Wills for life so that they can make alterations to allow for changed circumstances without any additional charges.
Change of circumstances
When a Will has been made, it is important to keep it up to date to take account of changes in circumstances. It is advisable for you to reconsider the contents of a Will regularly to make sure that it still reflects your wishes. The most common changes of circumstances which affect a Will are:
Getting married, remarried or registering a civil partnership.
Getting divorced, dissolving a civil partnership or separating.
The birth or adoption of children, if you wish to add these as beneficiaries in a Will.
How to change your Will
The only way you can change a Will is by making a codicil to the Will or a writing new Will.
A codicil is a supplement to a Will which makes some alterations but leaves the rest of it intact.
They are only suitable for very straightforward changes. If anything else is involved, it is usually advisable to make a new Will.
Making a new Will
If you wish to make major changes to a Will, it is advisable to make a new one. The new Will should begin with a clause stating that it revokes all previous Wills and codicils. The old Will should be destroyed. Revoking a Will means that it is no longer legally valid.
Ask us a question
If you have not found an answer to your question or want to ask us more about Wills and estate planning, then email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org