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Why a Will is important

Without anvalid Will you cannot control who will inherit your property after your death. Should you die intestate (without a Will), your property will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy, which is likely to be inconsistant with your personal wishes. In some cases your estate may go to the Crown instead of the people you want to benefit. By making a Will you can determine precisely who will inherit your property and let your loved ones know that you have considered their needs.

Equally important, you can determine who will administer your estate and who will act as guardian for any minor children you have if they are left without a surviving parent. You can also use your Will to express preferences for burial or cremation. If you have a specific preference for burial or cremation, nit is also sensible that you tell your spouse, executors, family or friends as quite often the contents of a Will will not be known to your executors until after burial or cremation has taken place. In addition, making a Will gives you the oppertunity of reducing your Inheritance Tax (IHT) liability. This is ;particularly important if you have substantial assets.

When you die leaving a valid Will that appoints one or two executors who are living at the time of your death, legal ownership of all your property passes automatically to those executors. In order to prove that they have the right to deal with your property, they must apply for a legal document confirming their right to do so from the Probate Registry. This process is called "obtaining Probate."

Who needs to make a Will

The answer is everyone. In particular, anyone with dependent relatives (children under the age of 18, elderly relatives or relativesnwith a disability who have special needs) and anyone who owns property or has any type of asset which you wish relatives, friends or charities to benefit from.

But won't everything go to my husband/wife/civil partner/children etc. automatically?

This is a common misconception and dependent on the size of your estate. There are set rules which will be applied to determing who inherits and how much if you do not make a Will.

So what happens if I don't make a Will

This is called having died intestate. There are specific rules of intestacy which set out who will inherit and by how much, if you do not leave a valid Will. This may not be what you would have wished and in the worst case scenarios where relatives cannot be traced, your assets will be taken by the Crown.

Who can make a Will?

Quite simply anyone over the age of 18 who is of sound mind, however, it is possible for members of the armed forces tomake a Will under the age of 18 (advice should be sought in these circumstances) also, under the provisions of the Mental Health Act 1983, the Court of Protection may approve the making of a Will, or a Codicil to a Will, for someone who is mentally incapable of doing so themselves.

Is making a Will difficult?

No. You need to make a list of your property and assets and consider who you wish to benefit from your estate, ensuring provision has been made for dependent relatives. You should also consider who you would want to look after your children (Guardians) if they were still young.

What makes a Will valid?

    It should be in writing, appoint someone to carry out the instructions of the Will (an Executor) and dispose of possessions/property

    It must be signed by the person making the Will (the Testator) or signed on the Testators behalf in his or her presence and by his/her direction. This must be done in the presence of two Witnesses who must sign the Will in the presence of the Testator.

Who can be a Witness?

Anyone who:

    Is not blind.

    Is capable of understanding the nature and effect of what they are doing.

    Is aged 18 or over.

A Witness should NOT be:

    A beneficiary in the Will.

    Married to, or be the civil partner of a Beneficiary

In these circumstances the Will remains a valid and legal document, but the girt to the beneficary cannot be paid.

Can I state what happens to my body in my Will?

Lots of people shy away from discussing their Funeral arrangements with family and friends, so making a Will is a good way of letting people know whether you wish to be buried or cremated and any specific requests you might have for your Funeral service.

However, it should be noted that your Executors are under no obligation ehatsoever to carry out Funeral wishes requested in your Will.

One way guarantee that your wishes are met is to set up a Guaranteed Funeral Plan, you can include details of this planning in your Will.

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