- Executors are appointed by the person making the Will to act as his or her ‘personal representatives’ after his or her death. They must be over 18, honest, reliable and trustworthy, and they may also be beneficiaries in the Will. The maximum number of executors is four.
- Exclusions: There is an act of parliament which states that anyone who has been financially dependent on you during their lifetime (this would usually mean a spouse, partner or child) has a natural right to inherit under your Will. However, you may wish to exclude such a person from your Will, and the law appears to be unclear as to whether a deliberate exclusion may or may not have merit. It is therefore advisable to state your reasons for such an exclusion in a separate document (see Letter of Wishes).
- Guardians should be appointed if the person(s) making Wills have a child or children under 18. (see also Letter of Wishes).
- Intention of marriage: If you marry or enter into a civil partnership, your Will becomes invalid and would need to be changed, unless your Will includes a clause stating your intention to marry a specific person who must be named. There would then be no need to change your Will after the marriage or civil partnership, unless, of course, you wish to do so.
- Letter of Wishes: This is a document which may be written by you; it is quite separate from the Will, but it can help to clarify some of the intentions you have expressed in the Will. For example:
- You could expand on your funeral wishes – music to be played, where the ashes are to be scattered, etc..
- You could state your reasons for excluding a son or daughter from your Will, giving details of unreasonable behaviour, etc..
- You could elaborate on the guardianship of a young child – the religious upbringing, the educational preferences, etc..
(This document should be addressed to your executors and signed by you. It should be kept with the Will, but not attached. You may, of course, update it at any time.)
- Overseas property: If you own land or buildings in another country, you are advised to make a Will in that country. If you have already made a Will in that country, we need to know, so that we do not revoke your overseas Will; if you have not yet made a Will in that country, when you do so you should tell the lawyer or notary that you have already made a Will in this country, so that he does not revoke your UK Will.
- Power of Attorney is a legal document which enables a person (‘the donor’) to appoint one or more others (‘the attorney(s)) to act on his or her behalf, usually in respect of financial affairs.
- Probate is the process of examination of a Will after the death of the person who has made the Will. It is the responsibility of the executor(s) – person(s) chosen by you at the time of making the Will – to take the Will through this process. The Probate Registry require a schedule of all the deceased’s assets, primarily to see if there is any liability for inheritance tax, and, of course, they will want to see that the Will has been correctly drafted and executed (signed and witnessed). It is only after the ‘Grant of Probate’ has been issued (which can take many weeks or months) that the executors can distribute the deceased’s assets in accordance with his or her wishes, as expressed in the Will.
- A Will is one of the most important documents you will ever own. If the wishes expressed in the Will are clear and unambiguous, and if the document has been correctly signed, dated and witnessed, it will determine who will inherit your ‘estate’ (the total of your assets and possessions) after your death. You can make any number of Wills during your lifetime, but only the document of latest date (your Last Will and Testament) will be considered as valid. On our website, we offer the option of a Single Will or Mirror Wills. A Single Will would be suitable either for a single person who is unattached or alternatively for a spouse or partner whose inheritance wishes are different from those of the other partner. If both partners have identical wishes, then it would be more economical for them to make Mirror Wills.