Making a Will is the only way to ensure your assets are passed to those of your choosing. Those who fail to make a Will risk their assets passing through the Rules of Intestacy and whilst these Rules are in place to permit assets to pass to those related to you, this may not be your desire.
The only way to ensure the passing of your wealth to people of your choosing is by making a Will. There are different types of Wills from simple ones to complicated Will trusts where you can protect your assets for an ultimate beneficiary but allow someone a life interest in the same. Wills are tailored to individual needs and requirements.
Who will inherit if I do not make a Will?
If you are married but have no children (or they predecease without leaving a child i.e. you don’t have grandchildren) but survived by a spouse or civil partner, your entire net wealth will pass to your spouse absolutely.
If you are survived by your spouse and children (or grandchild(ren) (but not step-children) the first £270,000 of your wealth will pass to your spouse/civil partner absolutely plus all your personal possessions whatever their value; the remainder of your estate is divided equally whereby your spouse/civil partner will one-half absolutely and the remaining half will pass to your child(ren) or grandchild(ren) as the case may be) equally absolutely.
If you and your partner have not married or registered a civil partnership and have not made a Will, they will have no automatic right to inherit from your wealth. This is the case even if the relationship is akin to a marriage or civil partnership and/or you have children together (though they may make a claim against your estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975). In such case your wealth would pass as below:-
Biological children (including step-children). Children of your partner do not qualify unless legally adopted by you.
If you do not have a child or grandchild then there is a hierarchy of persons who will inherit in order i.e. parents, siblings, half-siblings, nieces and nephews, grandparents, aunts and uncle, half aunts and uncles etc. may inherit your wealth.
If you do not have any remote family then the Crown takes all.
What is a mirroring Will?
A mirroring Will is when two people (usually married couples) make Wills together which reflect the same testamentary intentions i.e. leaving all the assets to the surviving spouse on first death and to the children equally on the second death.
Do I have to inform my spouse if I change my Will?
You Will is your own private document and you do not have to share it with anyone. It is best practice to register you Will with a national company so that it is easily located on your death.
What is a Will Trust?
I Will Trust is when you have a separate trust or trusts within your Will for the benefit of a specific beneficiary for a specific time period i.e. leaving a right of residence to an adult child for their lifetime and on their death the residence is passed to grandchildren.
There are many different types of trusts you can create to suit the requirements of your beneficiaries.
What is the role of an executor?
An executor is someone to ensures, amongst other things, that the gifts left in your Will are given correctly to your beneficiaries. An executor also administers the whole Will ensuring the correct Revenue forms are completed, all the taxes and debts are paid, protects your assets and realises the same for distribution.
An executor does not get paid for their role unless acting in a professional capacity.
An executor can be held personally liable for mistakes made during the administration of the estate whether purposefully or by mistake.
What is the role of a Trustee?
A trustee is someone who manages a trust created by your Will whether intentionally or by default i.e. a minor beneficiary’s inheritance will be maintained by a trustee until they reach the entitled age.
You can appoint the same person to be the trustee and the executor.
Is there a reading of the Will in the UK?
Unlike some other countries there is no formal obligation of ‘reading of the Will. A Will is a private document until it is submitted for Probate. Of course you can have a Will read to all the beneficiaries if you desire.
What is a Codicil?
You can add or change gifts in your main Will by adding a Codicil which is a document executed in the same way as your Will and which forms part of your existing Will i.e. if you want to leave a cash gift to a friend after the execution of your Will you can do this by a Codicil and do not have to create a new Will.
You can have more than one Codicil to your main Will.
Please contact a member of our experienced team to talk through your questions and queries.