Having a will that is reviewed regularly is essential if you want to protect your wealth after you die and ensure it passes to the people or organisations you choose. However there are a few misconceptions about how to make a will and what it can be used for. Here are some of the most popular questions.
What happens if I die and don’t have a will?
Your estate will be divided according to established legal principles. Normally your legal next of kin will inherit your estate. The process of evaluating and dividing an estate is known as probate and without a will this can be a very lengthy process. Until probate is obtained there can be no access to assets and property and possessions cannot be sold.
Can an Executor of a will also be a beneficiary?
Yes, this is perfectly legal and quite normal. Some people prefer to nominate an independent executor to save their beneficiaries the job but there is no requirement to do so.
Can any of my beneficiaries be a witness to my will?
No. If a beneficiary or their spouse witnesses the will, the bequest made to them will be invalid. The will is still valid, but the witnessing beneficiary will receive nothing.
Can I write a will for my parents?
Technically, it doesn’t matter who writes the will as long as it is properly signed and witnessed by two independent adults at the same time. Having the will written by an independent person will make it harder to challenge (see next question).
Can my will be challenged?
Wills can only be contested in the courts by spouses, children or people who are mentioned in the will or a previous will. There have to be specific legal grounds behind the challenge (unfairness is not one of them!). Possible grounds include irregularities with the witnessing, wills made without the necessary mental capacity, wills made under duress or where a signature was obtained fraudulently.
What happens to my will when I die?
The will is sent to the probate office for their official approval. This is needed before any assets such as your bank accounts can be accessed or any of your property sold. The executor or person nominated to act for them will manage the distribution of the estate.
Can I use my will to save Inheritance Tax?
Absolutely! This is one of the most important reasons for making a will. The way your will is worded can have a big effect.
If your question isn’t answered above simply contact PowellsLaw and we’ll be happy to help with advice, professional will writing or anything else you need.