So many questions that I get asked by my clients come up time and time again so I thought it may be helpful to compile a list of the most frequently asked. I will keep adding to this list as new questions crop up and if you have a question that I haven’t answered here, please do get in touch!
1) What is an Executor and how many can I appoint in my will?
An Executor is the person or persons appointed to administer your estate after your death. This includes obtaining your original will, applying for probate, paying any debts out of your estate and distributing your estate in accordance with the instructions in your will. You can appoint as many Executors as you like in your will but I suggest a maximum of four as only four can apply for probate. I also advise appointing a minimum of two Executors as administering an estate can be a daunting task for one person on their own, especially at an already upsetting and stressful time.
2) Can I include my funeral wishes in my will?
Yes, you can – and most people do. However, because your will may not be looked at until after your death, it is important to discuss your wishes with your loved ones so that they are aware of the type of funeral service you would like.
3) Can I appoint guardians in my will to look after my children if I die when they are still young? How do I choose who to appoint?
Yes you can and this is one of the most important functions of a will. However, a guardianship appointment would only take effect if both people with parental responsibility have died. For guidance on how to choose suitable guardians, please read my article, here.
4) I have fallen out with a family member. Can I exclude them from inheriting under my will as I don’t want them to get their hands on my money?
Certain groups of people are able to contest a will, for example, if they were financially dependant on you before your death and you have made little or no provision for them in your will or if one of your children, for example, has been cut out of your will completely. Just because a person chooses to contest a will does not mean they will do so successfully. They would have less chance of successfully contesting your will if you have included an explicit exclusion clause in your will and have given details of your reasons for the exclusion.
5) Can I state what I would like to happen to my pets in my will?
Yes, of course! They’re part of the family! You can refer to a specific pet (i.e. ‘my cat, Bertie’) or you can refer to your pets in general (i.e. ‘any pets I own at the time of my death’) and in both instances you can state who you would like to look after them.
6) Do I have to tell my Executors what’s in my will?
No, absolutely not! Your will is confidential and although it would be useful for you to tell your Executors that you have appointed them in this role, you do not need to show them a copy of your will or tell them what is in it.
7) How do I finalise my will so that it is valid?
Your will needs to be signed by you in the presence of two independent witnesses who must be present at the same time to witness you sign your will, and who must then enter their own signatures.
8) My daughter is having a baby soon. Can I make reference to my future grandchildren in my will?
Yes, you can. You can refer to ‘any grandchildren born at the time of my death’ and can stipulate whether they are to receive a specific gift each or whether they are to share a gift, i.e. an amount of money.
9) I am getting divorced. Do I have to make a new will?
Technically, no. A will that you made while you were married would still be valid after your decree absolute had been issued, but your ex-spouse would lose any gift under the will. However, with such a big life event, such as divorce, it is highly advisable to make a new will and to reassess how you would like your assets to be distributed upon your death.
10) My partner and I got married! Are the wills we made when we first moved in together still valid?
That depends. If your wills include a ‘contemplation of marriage’ clause then it is likely that they are still valid. However, ordinarily, the event of marriage invalidates any will that was made before the marriage took place so it is highly advisable to get your wills checked so that you can be certain of whether or not you need to make new ones.
If you’d like to chat about any of these issue please call me on 079100 74611 or email me at Rachel@hardingestateplanning.co.uk.
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