A Will is a list of instructions telling your executors what to do with your property when you die.
Your property will be divided according to certain legal rules (the intestacy rules). Some of them may surprise you. For example, the share your husband or wife gets may not be enough to give him or her outright ownership of your home. Also, if you are not married but have been living with someone, the person you are living with will not get anything. The following will give you a rough idea of how the rules work.
Yes, but only by signing a document called a codicil. This must also be prepared, signed and executed in a particular way. You do not need a codicil if you or any person named in your Will changes their address. A codicil is useful for minor changes to your Will. If you wish to make major changes it is often preferable to write a new Will.
You can cancel your Will by making a new Will, or simply by tearing it up/burning it.
A Will is almost always cancelled automatically if you get married after you have made it. If you get divorced after you have made it, any provisions in favour of your wife or husband will be cancelled unless the Will says otherwise. It is essential that you consider writing a new Will if there are major changes to your circumstances.
Executors are the people appointed in your Will to carry out your instructions.
Trustees are the people appointed in your Will to look after your property until for example, a child is old enough to inherit or where there is a life interest. Executors and trustees are usually the same people.
You can appoint up to four executors, but you should appoint at least two. You can appoint "reserve" Executors in case your first choice decides not to take the position or dies before you.
Executors bring together all your assets, pay your debts and any gifts of money, transfer any gifts or personal belongings and deal with the remainder of your residuary estate in accordance with your Will. Often non-professional Executors will ask a Solicitor to do some or all of the work for them.
Any adult person or a bank may be appointed as an Executor. One of them could be the person who is going to receive the biggest share of your estate, such as your husband or your partner. Relatives and close family friends can be Executors. There is also a Government department known as the Public Trustee. It's easy to appoint another Executor later if you want to do so by means of a codicil. If you appoint a professional trustee do remember that they will charge for their service.
If you have children under the age of 18 who may be left with no parents you should appoint a Guardian or Guardians if you know anyone suitable.
People who are "co-owners" of property hold it either as "joint tenants" or "joint tenants in common". Husbands and wives are usually, but not always, joint tenants. This means that when one of them dies the other one automatically becomes the owner of the whole of the property. It also means that a joint tenant cannot make a gift in a Will of his or her share of the property. A joint tenancy can easily be converted into a tenancy in common and Ezwill.co.uk can draw this up for you.
We are getting a lot of calls from the public asking about Tenants in common. Most couples own their property as joint tenants, which means that on the death of one of the joint owners then the property passes to the survivor. This is fine in most cases but increasingly you are concerned about inheritance tax. Changing ownership to tenants in common achieves no tax saving without the correct Wills in place. If your estate value/ wealth is over £325,000 and a large proportion of this is in the family home, then changing to Tenants in common and taking advantage of advanced planning or Trust Wills may protect your estate from inheritance tax. This is a complex area to research so call or email us and we will visit you to explain in layman's terms how it all works and if it will work for you. We have already done the research and have many years experience to help you through the tax maze. Why not give us a call, you will be glad you did. Call 01276 415812 or e-mail us at [email protected]
Despite recent changes in the Finance Bill The Discretionary Trust Wills can still save Inheritance Tax. If the value of your estate is more than £325,000 (2018/19) after payment of debts and any gifts to your husband or wife or a charity then Inheritance tax may be payable at 40% on the value over this amount. So if you are a couple and your estate is worth £750,000 and you have made simple Wills then on the first death there is no Iht payable providing you are married, due to the spouse exemption, but now your spouses estate is worth £750,000 so that on the second death INHERITANCE TAX may be due. Ezwill.co.uk can advise you on ways of reducing or removing the impact of inheritance tax on your estate. We can also help you make use of your spouses Nil Rate band if it was unused when they died. Its got to be worth it for your family's benefit and I certainly would not like to leave more to the Treasury than I have to. Simple Wills are not always the answer.
A Living Will (also called an advance directive) is a set of instructions issued in advance to the medical practitioners who may be involved in looking after you in the future. People making a Living Will state that they do not wish their lives to be artificially prolonged when suffering from a terminal illness or other degenerative condition. Ezwill.co.uk can provide this service.
You should keep it in a safe place. Your Executors will need the original. Ezwill.co.uk can arrange to have your Will and other documents stored. Providing the Will is drawn up by us.
Lawyers make more money from sorting out the problems created by DIY Wills than they do from drawing them up! The pre-printed forms available in bookshops can also cause problems. When striving to make the wording fit the framework of the form, committing a blunder is easy.
If you are single (i.e. unmarried, widowed or divorced) with no children or grandchildren your property goes:
To your parents or whichever one is living: if both your parents are dead, to your brothers and sisters, and if any of your brothers or sisters are dead, the share of that brother or sister goes to any of their children who survive you: if both of your parents are dead and you have no surviving brothers, sisters, nieces or nephews, then to any half brothers or sisters (and if any of them are dead, their share goes to any of their children who survive you): if none of the above survive you, then your grandparents and then to any aunts or uncles and after that to various more distant relatives: if you have no relatives, or only very distant ones, your property then goes to the crown (i.e. the government).
If you are single with children or grandchildren your property goes:
To your children in equal shares: but if any of them have died their share will be divided between any of their children.
If you are married with no children or grandchildren:
The first £450,000 of your property goes to your husband or wife plus one half of the remainder: the other half goes to your parents or whichever one is living: if both parents are dead, the other half will go to your brothers or sisters or, as above, to the children of any who have died before you: if none of the above survives you, then your husband or wife gets everything.
If you are married with children or grandchildren:
The first £250,000 of your property goes to your husband or wife plus a life interest in one half of the remainder (this will eventually pass to your children or grandchildren on his or her death): the other half goes directly to your children or, as above, to the children of any who have died before you.
When these rules are applied it usually does not matter whether a person is legitimate, illegitimate or adopted. Thus, for example, your adopted children have the same rights as your natural children, and the same is true for any of your children whose mother is not your wife or whose father is not your husband.
I give £5000 to R.U. BROKE in the knowledge that he will do what is right by his cousins.
Here the testator meant that R U. should give some of the money to the other cousins. However it could well create a binding obligation (technically a trust) in favour of the cousins. Only a court could sort this one out.
I leave £10,000 to Mr and Mrs P.A. HARDUP.
Is this £10,000 to each of them or is it to be shared? The courts would rule that it was to each of them meaning that the other beneficiaries would lose out!
I give all my money to my wife TINA MISSEDOUT.
Does this mean cash in the house? Or in the bank? Or the whole estate?