Trusted Mediators

Frequently Asked Questions about wills

Why do I need to make a will?

A will is a legally recognised document that allows you to be clear on what you want to happen to all you have when you die. If you don&t have a will then when you die you will do so intestate; this means that whatever money, property or possessions you leave may not go to the people or person you want to have it

What does dying intestate mean?

If you die without having made a will then you die intestate and the law decides who gets your estate and possessions rather than it being given to those you want to have it

Won&t my wife husband or partner automatically get anything I leave upon my death?

Common law partners are not recognised in the law which means that if you are living with someone and you die they will not inherit unless you have a will that names them; and if you are married and die without a will you are intestate and the law decides who will inherit. This means that other family members, however distant, could claim a part of your estate

Who can make a will?

Anyone over 18 years of age can make a will

Can I make my own will?

You can make your own will, but it is intended as a legal document and can, therefore, be complex so care should be taken when considering this.The wrong wording can mean your wishes are not followed through precisely and that those you wish to benefit from your will do not get what you intended them to

Who needs to make a will?

Everyone who has any property, a car, personal possessions, money or something they wish to pass on to someone else when they die needs a will; it is the only way of making sure that everything you want someone to have when you die goes to them

How much does a will cost?

A will is a very personal document, specifically tailored to an individual's needs and wishes, so the costs will vary

How often should my will be reviewed?

Every three to five years unless your circumstances change in which case when they do it is best to have your will reviewed and if necessary amended

What happens if I get married after making a will?

If you get married after making a will then it is revoked unless it mentions your marriage and demonstrates that you have considered it when making the will so it will need careful consideration

What happens if I enter a civil partnership?

For the purposes of a will that is the same as getting married so you will need to revise your will

What happens if I get divorced?

That affects your will and it needs to be revised as you may want to make some very important changes

What is an executor?

An executor is someone who deals with your estate and who will make sure your will is followed; they will also make sure that any bills and funeral expenses are paid after your death

What happens if my civil partnership is dissolved?

That affects your will and it needs to be revised just as if you got divorced

How many executors can I name?

As many as you want to but there are legal restrictions on how many can act at one time

What is a beneficiary?

A beneficiary is someone who benefits from your will, in other words someone who you leave money or property to

Can someone I name as an executor benefit from my will?

Yes as long as your will has been written correctly

Where should my will be kept?

Wherever you want to keep it

Who should know where my will is kept?

Your executors should know where your will is kept and anyone else you want to know

What is a mirror will?

A mirror will is a will made by someone who wants it to be the same as another's; for example, two parents who want to leave their estate to each other and then to their children

What is a living will?

A living will lets you say what end of life medical treatment you want to have

What is power of attorney?

The power of attorney lets someone act on your behalf and manage your financial assets and property

If I am married does my spouse also need to make a will?

Yes because a will is a very specific and personal document, but mirror wills can be written to avoid conflict in deciding who inherits

Can amendments be made to a will after it has been written?

Yes, amendments can be made to a will after it has been written

Can people under the age of 18 inherit from my will?

You can leave what you want to anyone under the age of 18 but they cannot inherit it until they have reached 18 years of age; until then it will be held in a trust for them

If I leave money to someone under 18 can it be used to help them before they reach that age?

Trustees can decide how much of a child's inheritance can be used for example for school fees before they reach the age of 18

What is a guardian?

If you have a child or children, your will can name someone you would want to look after them should you die before they reach the age of 18

What can a guardian do?

A guardian can look after a child and make all of the decisions needed about their care just as you can

What are the financial implications for guardians?

A guardian will be financially responsible for providing for your child so you should carefully consider this when making your will

What if I have a child but am not married to the mother?

Then legally you have no rights and you should carefully consider this when writing a will, as should the child&s mother

Can I cancel my will after it is written?

A will is cancelled or revoked if you deliberately destroy it, or if you get divorced anything in your will about your former spouse will not apply, and if you get married your will is revoked. Your will is also revoked if you make another one after it is written

What is residue?

Residue is what's left in your estate after all final bills and expenses are paid and this is why it is important to make a will that names those you wish to have the residue of your estate

When is it necessary to set up a trust?

Whether it is necessary for a trust to be created will depend upon your individual circumstances; but if you want to leave an inheritance to someone who is not yet 18 years old then a trust could administer it until the beneficiary reaches the age of 18