What is a Will?
A Will is a document which sets out who is to benefit from your assets and possessions after your death and how your estate is to be divided. The Will also appoints the person who Will manage or administer the estate. This person is called an executor.
Why do I need an expert to write my Will?
Your Will is an important legal document. Bicester Wills & Probate are experienced not only in drawing Wills up, but advising on important related matters of law, such as succession, taxation, property matters and family problems.
Why should I make a Will?
Making a Will enables you to choose exactly what happens to all of your assets by specifying how these are to be distributed after you have died. Writing a Will also gives you the peace of mind knowing that you have yourself chosen who gets what and it considerably simplifies the required formalities and reduces costs at a very stressful time for your family. Â â€¨Also, if you have any children, making a Will enables you to appoint guardians to look after them in the event of your death (if the other parent is unable to do so).
What can I say in a Will ?
When you make a Will you can say how you would like your financial affairs to be dealt with after your death. You can also add any personal comments and if you wish, choose whether you want to be buried or cremated. You can decide if you would like a formal service and if so specify where it should be held. You can also choose if there should be a sermon or any particular hymns. Your Will does not have to be a long and complex document and it should always be as clear and simple to understand as possible.
Can I change my Will?
Yes. You should review your Will every couple of years or when your situation changes through marriage, separation or divorce, or if you buy a house or receive an inheritance. Minor changes only need a small amendment called a codicil. Anything complicated is probably best dealt with by making a new Will.
Where should I keep my Will ?
Where should I keep my Will ?
There is no formal requirement as to where a Will should be stored but obviously it should be kept in a safe place that is easily accessible. Bicester Wills& Probate can arrange a secure storage service which you can use to ensure that your Will is safe. You should always make a copy of your Will (which should clearly be marked â€œcopyâ€ on all pages) and make a note on the copy where the original is kept. Finally tell your executors where you have kept your Will and give them a letter of instruction regarding any matters that you do not wish to include in your Will (but do not staple or attach this to the Will in any way).
Do I need to tell anyone about my Will?
It is advisable to tell somebody, ideally your executors about the existence of your Will. It is wise to keep a copy of it with other important papers which will be checked after your death. The original must be kept in a safe place. Bicester Wills & Probate can arrange secure storage facilities.
What happens if I don't make a Will?
If you don’t make a legal Will, your estate (your personal belongings, property, savings etc) will be distributed to your next of kin after the payment of any debts according to the Laws of Intestacy regardless of your personal wishes and/or your relationship to that person at the time of your death. This could mean that your spouse might not receive the whole of your estate or an unmarried partner might not receive anything and/or you might be liable to unnecessary tax. See Laws of Intestacy Flowchart
What are executors and who is allowed to be one?
Executors are responsible for finalising all the details of your Will, such as obtaining probate and winding up of the estate. Anybody over the age of 18 at you death and of sound mind can be an executor. You can also appoint a Professional Trustee Company to be an executor. It general, Will executors must be considered to be capable of the role and above all honest. Choose people who you feel you can trust to carry out your wishes.
Should I appoint guardians for my children?
You may want to appoint guardians of your children (under 18 years). A guardian does not have to physically look after a child but he or she is responsible for ensuring that the child is properly cared for. If you do wish to appoint guardians here are some points to remember.
•You should appoint someone who is unlikely to be elderly or infirm by the time that your youngest child attains his or her majority.
•You should seek the guardians consent before you consider appointing him or her.
•Remember that if you are separated or divorced and the other parent has parental responsibility then the appointment of a testamentary guardian will not come into effect until the surviving parent dies.
What should I take into account when I make gifts of money?
We recommend that any bequests of money should be kept to a small proportion of your total estate. This is because of the technical rules of English Law by which all such gifts are paid first out of the estate which may be unfair to the person who is to receive what is left.
What should I take into account when I make gifts of things?
Remember that, as with gifts of money, you should keep the value of the gifts to a small proportion of your total estate. Remember that the beneficiary will have to pay the costs of transportation, an important consideration if the beneficiary lives abroad. Please ensure that you give a proper description of the item you are leaving. The description should be such that an independent person could identify the item without having to ask questions for further clarification. It would be a good idea if you took an photograph of the thing in question and write on the reverse what it is and then leave it with your Will.
What should I take into account with the remainder of my estate?
You need to decide who is to receive the balance of your estate (called the “residue”). This is usually your main beneficiary assuming that you have kept the gifts of money and things to a minimum. You can leave the residue to one person or a number of persons in equal or unequal shares. You can also leave the residue to be divided between a class of persons such as your children or your nephews and nieces. Remember that the word child or children includes adopted and illegitimate children, but not step-children so careful consideration is needed when using terms.
What if my main beneficiary dies before me?
You need to provide for the circumstance if your main beneficiary dies first. This is not absolutely necessary but we would say it is unwise not to provide for an alternative. As with the gift of residue this alternative gift can be to one person a number of named persons in equal or unequal shares or to a class of persons.
What if someone dies who I have left a gift to in my Will ?
If when making a Will you leave a gift of an item or money to someone who then dies before you, that gift goes back into your estate as if it had not been left to anyone in the first place. If they die before they receive their legacy but survive you by more than 30 days then they will receive their gift posthumously and it will then form part of their estate. However if someone who you leave a gift to fails to survive you by more than 30 days then their share is divided among the other beneficiaries in the same proportion to each other as before.