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Why should I make a Will?

Making your Will is the only way to ensure that your money and possessions are left to the persons you have chosen. If you have young children you can appoint guardians to care for them after your death.

Who can make a Will?

Every adult should have a Will and be of sound mind.

If you are living together, and not married, is it important to make a Will?

Yes, assuming you want your partner to inherit from you. It is very important for unmarried partners to make Wills, as without them, the surviving partner may receive nothing when the estate is distributed

Who should I appoint as my Executors?

Executors are the people appointed by you in your Will to carry out your instructions. You can appoint up to four Executors, but it is wise to appoint at least two. You can also appoint Reserve Executors, should your first choice be unwilling or unable to act. Anyone over the age of 18 can act as an Executor. An Executor can also be a beneficiary; in many family cases an Executor is often the wife/husband of the Testator (the person making the Will). If an Executor is a professional person or firm (e.g. solicitor or bank) then provision must be made in the Will for their charges by adding a ‘charging clause’.

Who should I appoint as Guardians of my minor children?

You should appoint Guardians if you have children under 18 years of age. The appointment of Guardianship allows you to decide who should be responsible for your children’s welfare. You should also give consideration as to the age of the Guardians, do they have a good relationship with your children, do they have the same views regarding how your children should be educated etc?

Can my Executors also be Guardians?

Yes, it is quite usual for Guardians to also be Executors.

Do I have to list everything that I own in my estate?

No, but if you want specific objects or certain amounts of money to go to certain people, then you should list these. However, what you do not identify in your estate (everything else not listed, whatever it may be), is dealt with through distribution of the residue. It is important when leaving gifts, that you give the full name of the recipient and a full description of the gift.

Do gifts and legacies have to be under a certain value?

No. A gift can be of any value.

Can I leave a gift to a charity?

Yes, but you need to give the full name, address and registered number of that charity. What would happen if the person I’ve left a legacy to dies before I do? Normally, the legacy would lapse and then it becomes part of the residue of your estate unless you give instructions to the contrary.

What is the residue?

The residue is everything that remains after specific bequests (if any) and after payment of all debts, taxes and expenses. There is no need to itemise the residue, you can simply decide what proportion each beneficiary is to receive, if you are naming more than one. For example, you may wish to leave the residue to your spouse and then for it to pass on to your children. If perhaps you do not wish your children to benefit in equal shares you can state what proportion each child is to receive. If you are single, or do not have any children you may wish to leave the residue to other named beneficiaries, for example, 50% to Mr A and the remaining 50% to be shared equally between Mrs B and Miss C.

Can I make provision in my Will for any funeral requests or medical donation?

Yes. You can state whether you wish to be buried or cremated and make clear any particular wishes you have. Alternatively, if you have no preference this can also be included. You are also able to have a clause added stating any particular medical donation, however it is always a good idea to let close relatives know of your particular wishes.

Who should be the witnesses?

To make a legally valid Will it must be signed by two independent witnesses who are over the age of 18 years. The witnesses do not have to read your Will; they are there to witness your signature. Witnesses must not be mentioned in your Will as beneficiaries or married to a beneficiary.

Am I able to cancel my Will?

You can always cancel your Will by either destroying the original or by making a new Will. (Marriage automatically revokes any former Wills)

What happens to my estate if I haven’t made a Will?

If you should die without having a legally valid Will, you will die intestate and the management of your estate (which includes property, monies etc) is done by administrators appointed by Court.