About a Will
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Without a Will:
If you die without a Will you are known to have died "Intestate". Without a Will, your Estate is divided amongst your family according to the Laws of Intestacy, and what this means is that the assets you have worked for all your life could pass on your death to people whom you never intended to inherit, and if you died with no living relations, everything you own could go to the Treasury! read more..
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Your Will should always be stored in a safe place and your Executors should always know where to find it. If you store your Will at home, it can easily get lost or damaged or even read by a family member against your will. If you write your Will using our any of our "Superior Plus"Will package, we will store your Will in our secure storage facility FREE of charge.. read more..
For whatever reason, if you have a wish to refuse certain types of life prolonging treatment in the event of you being rendered physically incapable of refusing such treatment our Living Will package might well suit you. read more..
About a Will - A Will is a legal document that details in writing an individuals wishes as to the disposal of their property and belongings after their death. The individual making the Will is referred to as the "Testator" if they are male, or as the "Testatrix" if they are female. The Testator or Testatrix nominate in their Will one or more persons, known as Executor(s),to manage his or her estate after their death and the wording of the Will itself utilises basic legal clauses in order to provide for the transfer of his or her property at death. The well known terminology "Last Will and Testament" is derived from the word "Will", which in literal translation was historically limited to the transfer of real estate, whilst the word "Testament" used to refer only to dispositions of personal property or chattels.
Plan a Will When you start to think about a Will before you can actually make a Will, your first care should be to thoroughly plan a Will. Your first consideration should be as to who you would want to act as your Executor or Executors. You can nominate a minimum of one Executor and a maximum of four, though since this is such an important role, great care and thought should be given to who you would like to Act.
Your Will should also clearly document who you wish to act as Guardians after your death. The Guardians role would be to assume full "Parental Responsibility" for any minor (under the age of 18) children you may have, and your Will should also clearly state at what age any minor should inherit (normally from the ages of 18 to 25). This is particularly relevant as a child cannot legally own real estate, for example a house, whilst they are under the age of 18.
Having established Executors and Guardians, the next consideration when you plan a Will would be to think about any specific funeral arrangements that you would like to take place after death, for example wishes to be buried or cremated. Whilst your funeral wishes are not technically binding on your next of kin or Executors, a clear statement of your wishes set down in your Will will certainly give them guidance as to what you wanted to happen.
You should also consider if you would like to make any specific gifts after your death, such as "I give my Jewellery to..." or a gift to a specific Charity, or an amount of money to a friend or relation. You might decide that you only wanted a specific gift to take place in the event of second death, particularly if you are Married or in a Civil Partnership.
Normally, after any specific Gifts have been made, if you are married or in a Civil Partnership, most people tend to leave everything else (normally referred to as the "Residue") to their spouse or partner. This is not always the case, particularly if you are single or unmarried.
When you have decided who to leave the "Residue" of your Estate to, you should then consider what you would want to happen and who you would like to inherit should that person or persons die at the same time or before you. The persons nominated to inherit under these circumstances would be considered to be the beneficiaries of the "second level" of "Residue". Similarly, you may wish to consider "third level" of "Residue" beneficiaries should everyone else named in your Will predecease you or die at the same time.
It is important to be aware, that should you die, and that all your named beneficiaries have predeceased you, even though you have written a Will, you would then have died "Intestate" in the eyes of the Law, so unwittingly, all your worldly goods could pass to the Crown!
The clear message here is that however unlikely it may be to contemplate that all your beneficiaries should die before you, you should always nominate a "disaster" type beneficiary like a Charity for example so at least there is always someone who can inherit your Estate who needs the money more than the Crown!
You should then nominate the persons (known as beneficiaries)that you would like to inherit your property after your death and in what shares.
Your Will also effectively creates a type of Trust on your death, known as a "Testementary" Trust and it is through this mechanism that the Executors of the Estate effectively gain legal ownership or title to the deceaseds assets and become "Trustees". It is the "Trustees" role to distribute the property to the beneficiaries in the shares and at such times as outlined in the Will document itself.
To make a Will valid in the eyes of the Law, it has to comply with the rules established under Section 9 of the Wills Act of 1837.
The Act which states that "no Will shall be valid unless..."
- It is in writing, and signed by the Testator, or by some other person in his presence and by his direction; and
- It appears that the testator intended by his signature to give effect to the will; and
- The signature is made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time; and
- Each witness either
- (i) attests and signs the will; or
- (ii) acknowledges his signature, in the presence of the testator (but not necessarily in the presence of any other witness), but no form of attestation shall be necessary".
The first thing to be aware of is that when you write, sign, date and have had your signature witnessed on a new Will, is that in so doing you have effectively voided any Will that you may have written previously.
It is also worthy of note that a future Marriage will void a Will entirely, but if your Will is being made in contemplation of Marriage, you do not void a Will when you do get married as long as your future intention to get married is noted in the Will. Interestingly, getting divorced does not void a Will, but clearly at such a time it will be very wise to consider writing a new Will since it is very likely that in such circumstances your wishes may have changed completely.