I’m married with children – what happens to my estate if I don’t make a will?
If you have assets of less than £250,000, and die intestate (i.e. without making a will), then your spouse or civil partner will be entitled to the whole of your estate (i.e. what you leave). The children get nothing.
I’ve been with my partner for years, but we’re not married. Do I need to make a will?
If you and your partner are not married or legally united in a civil partnership, your partner will not be automatically entitled to any of your assets when you die – no matter how long your relationship has been – unless you make a will
Do I need a professional to make a will for me?
If you own relatively little, and intend to make straightforward bequests, you may feel that you can make a will without using a solicitor. Bear in mind, however, that there are pitfalls if you get the formalities wrong & you may leave a mess behind for your loved ones.
What kind of people can be witnesses?
They must be over 18, of sound mind, and able to see; but apart from that there are no restrictions. However, witnesses – and their spouse or civil partner – are not allowed to benefit under a will.
What is an executor?
Your executors are the people who make it all happen after your death. Among other things, they have to:
- apply for a ‘Grant of Representation’ from the Probate Registry
- notify the bank(s), pension agencies, solicitor, utility companies, and other relevant parties
- arrange your funeral and pay for it (the money comes from your estate)
- arrange for the payment of any debts outstanding on your death
Being an executor can be a very demanding job. If you want one of your family or friends to do it, be sure to ask them first whether they are willing to take on the responsibility.
If you can’t think of anyone among friends or family who could cope with being an executor, you can appoint a professional executor who has the expertise needed. Fees are typically between 1-6% of the value of the estate, with banks tending to charge higher fees than solicitors.
Did you know that you can make provision for your pets in your will.
For example, you can state who you would like to care for your cat, dog or other pet & you could set up a simple trust, with the income going to support them during their lifetime.
Own a property abroad?
The law in England and Wales says that the law governing foreign property (land, buildings etc.) is the law of the country in which the property is situated.
If I leave something to someone who dies before me, what happens?
Generally it becomes part of your residue (i.e. what is left over, after any specific bequests have been satisfied) and will pass to whoever your will says is entitled to the residue, unless you make specific provisions.