A Guide to Wills
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document, which sets out what is to happen to a person’s estate on their death. It is a legal declaration providing for the transfer of
property. Your estate is the total value of all you own.
What are Mirror Wills?
Mirror Wills are for a couple who have the same wishes, it is not a joint Will it is still two Wills.
Who can make a Will?
Anyone over the age of 18 years of sound mind.
Who can be witnesses?
Anyone over the age of 18 who is not mentioned in the Will or related by blood or marriage to anyone named in the Will.
What is a Guardian?
A person who you nominate to look after your children under the age of 18.
Do I need to appoint Guardians?
If you have children under the age of 18, it is advisable to appoint a Guardian. Your Will is the only place you can nominate a Guardian so it is important to do so.
What is an Executor?
An Executor is the person(s) you name to carry out your wishes when you die.
Who can be Executors?
Your Executor can be anyone over the age of 18 years. You can appoint a family member or a close friend. It is always best to appoint someone that
you can trust and who you feel is up to the job. It is a good idea to speak to the person first to make sure that they are prepared to do it. You need a minimum of one person and a maximum of four.
Can an Executor be a beneficiary of my Will?
Yes, but they must not witness your Will.
Can I leave gifts to people without a Will?
No. Without a Will, you cannot leave a gift to charity or friends.
What is a “residue”?
Your Residue or Residuary Estate is the money left over once all debts, funeral expenses and tax have been paid.
What happens to my Will when I marry or divorce?
Once married the Will becomes invalid unless a clause has been written into the Will in contemplation of marriage. On divorce the Will is still valid, however, your former spouse is treated as if they had died. This means any clauses pointing to them as beneficiary/trustee/guardian will fail.
Do I need to provide for dependants in my Will?
While the law of England and Wales permits you to write the Will of your choice if you fail to make provision for someone from the following list,
then that person, or their representative, may bring a claim for Reasonable Financial Provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and
Dependants) Act 1975.
The list of dependants is:
• recently separated partners
• civil partners
• ex-civil partners
• other dependants
What is a letter of wishes?
A letter of wishes is an informal document that can be made to accompany a Will. It is not legally binding but is used to set out specific wishes that
you may have such as special instructions for your funeral or particular wishes that you may have on how you'd like your executor or trustees to
manage any trusts created in your Will. It can also be used to provide clarity around aspects of your Will such as why you may not have included
someone as a beneficiary.
A letter of wishes should not be physically attached to the Will as if they are stapled together it can invalidate the Will. The document can be
kept by the Testator and amended as many times as they like. We can write a clause to point to the letter of wishes so the executors know one exists.