Responsible Estate Planning

Frequently Asked Questions: Will Writing

It is important to ensure you have the correct will to suit your unique situation. Hopefully, our Frequently Asked Questions page can answer any questions you may have. If not feel free to call us 0808 178 8105 for a no-obligation conversation.

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What is a Will?

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A Will is a legal document which clearly sets out your wishes following your death. Typically, this includes how your estate should be distributed but could also include other things such as any wishes you have with regards to your funeral, and who should be appointed as guardians for any children under the age of 18.

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Why should you make a Will?

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Your Will is a critical document that defines what should happen to your estate after you die. If you don’t leave a Will then what happens to your estate is determined by law and does not consider your wishes.

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What if I do not have a Will?

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If you do not leave a legal Will then you are deemed intestacy or dying intestate. The law then determines using a standardised approach how your estate is distributed. The law determining how things are distributed is different in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. There are however some key common issues:

  • If you are married, your husband or wife might inherit most or all your estate, but your children might not get anything (except in Scotland). This will still be the case even if you are separated and not divorced
  • If you have a partner but are not married or in a civil partnership, your partner would not be entitled to anything when you die
  • What any children or grandchildren are legally entitled to will depend on where you live in the UK
  • If you have children under the age of 18 you will not be able to determine who will be their guardians
  • If your estate is subject to inheritance tax then what your estate must pay might be higher than it would be if you had a Will in place
  • If you have no living close relatives when you die your whole estate will belong to the Crown or government, under bona vacantia law
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Who can make a Will?

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Any person over the age of 18 and who is of sound mind can make a Will.

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How do I make a Will?

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Contact Responsible Estate Planning, and we will talk you through the process, understand your needs and wants and then do this for you. You can contact Responsible Estate Planning either:

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What is an Executor?

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An Executor is a person you have named in your Will who will carry out your wishes and sorts out your estate in line with the instructions you have detailed in your Will. You can nominate more than one Executor if you so wish.

The role of an Executor can sometimes be complicated as they may have to deal with matters like inheritance tax and deal with the sale of property and possessions to ensure that those due to inherit get as much as is possible.

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Who can be an Executor?

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Anybody aged 18 or over can be an Executor and importantly an Executor can also be a beneficiary in your Will. It is not uncommon for people to name their spouse or children as Executors but above all, it needs to be somebody you trust to carry out your wishes and able to find solutions in the case of any disagreement.

You can have up to 4 Executors, although in most cases this isn’t practical as they must act jointly. It is, however, a good idea to choose at least 2 as this acts as a safeguard to ensure your wishes are carried out appropriately. You can also appoint substitute Executors to cover the event that your first choice(s) die before you.

If your affairs are complex, then it might be a good idea to appoint a solicitor or an accountant as an Executor. Using these professional services will, however, be chargeable so it is important that you understand their fees and how and when they charge for their services.

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What makes my Will legal?

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For a Will to be considered legally valid it must be signed, dated, and witnessed correctly. To help you meet these requirements Responsible Estate Planning will send you a signing instruction guide when we send you the final version of your Will for signature.

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Can anybody witness my Will?

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No, for somebody to be a witness to a Will, they cannot be a beneficiary or the spouse or civil partner of the beneficiary.

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Can I change my Will once it has been signed?

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Absolutely, you can change your Will at any time, provided you are of sound mind and have the capacity to do so. It is, in fact, important to keep your Will up-to-date and review it regularly as a change in your circumstance could impact what happens to your estate. Births, deaths, marriages, house moves and a change to your estate, are all key events that might impact your wishes.

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How can I cancel my Will if I need to?

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You can cancel or revoke your Will in several ways:

  • You can deliberately destroy it
  • You sign a new Will
  • Marriage often revokes a Will
  • Under English law, in the case of a divorce, a former spouse is treated as though they have died before you and any gifts to the former spouse will fail
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