When does a Will become legally binding?

A will does not become binding until the person who makes it dies. Until that point the person making the will is not bound at all and can change their mind as often as they like by making a new will. For guidance on what makes a valid will, see How do I make sure my Will is legal? As always, we’ll be on hand to give you guidance and checklists every step of the way, so if you have any questions, you only have to ask. Back to the knowledge...

How do I revoke my Will?

If for whatever reason at any time you choose to cancel or revoke your Will this can be done in one of two principal ways: By destroying it. By making a new one, which expressly revokes any previous Wills. Destroying all previous Wills Simply gather together all signed copies of your Will including those securely stored elsewhere and destroy them for example by tearing them up, shredding them or burning them. Alternatively you can get someone else to destroy them in your presence. Making a new Will The simplest way to revoke a Will is to make a new one, making clear that it revokes any other Wills in existence. If you need help in making a new will we’re here every step of the way – with us it’s easy. Back to the knowledge...

When can your Will be challenged in court?

Just because you have a will it doesn’t mean everyone’s going to be happy with its contents when you die. Whilst everything might be very amicable now, start talking inheritance and those you care about might not completely agree with what your final wishes are, either through resentment or simply through not understanding your Will’s contents. A person can’t contest a will just because they’re unhappy with what it says. Sometimes wills are challenged in court on the basis that they are not legally valid, for example the person who made the will did not have the mental capacity to do so, or were coerced by someone else or the will was not drafted or witnessed properly. Additionally, certain people are entitled to make a claim against an estate if the will does not make reasonable financial provision for them. Who can make a claim? Spouses or civil partners. Former spouses or civil partners who have not remarried or entered into a new civil partnership. Children of the deceased. People who were treated as children of the deceased. Anyone who was wholly or partly looked after (maintained) by the deceased. Anyone who was living as husband, wife or civil partner of the deceased for more than two years before their death. This shows how important it is to make sure your will is correctly and clearly written and legally valid. We’ll guide you through all of the important steps involved in putting your will together and getting it correctly witnessed. To find out more read our ‘What needs to happen for a will to be valid?’ and ‘Who do...

What taxes will my estate incur and how will they be paid?

Inheritance Tax (IHT) is a tax levied on a deceased’s estate. The estate is, with a few exceptions, everything the deceased owns immediately before death. Normally the tax is charged at 40% of the value of the estate. However there are lots of exemptions that mean currently only about 1 in 20 estates pay any IHT. We explain these exemptions below. Leaving all or part of your estate to your husband, wife or civil partner The good news is that any gifts made in your will to your spouse or civil partner are free of IHT. In other words if you leave all your assets to your spouse or civil partner there will be no IHT to pay. Also any inheritance left to your spouse (husband/wife/civil partner) does not use up your ‘Nil Rate Band’. We explain what that is below. The nil rate band Each person has a “nil rate band” – an amount they can leave to anyone free of IHT. Currently the nil rate band is £325,000 per person. In other words, if your estate is worth less than £325,000 there will be no IHT to pay.If you leave part of your estate to someone other than your spouse or civil partner then this uses up your nil rate band. The nil rate band is “transferable” between spouses/civil partners. This means that when one spouse dies, any unused part of their nil rate band is passed on to their spouse/civil partner. Here is an example: Bob leaves an estate worth £500,000 on his death. He leaves £400,000 of his estate to his wife Mary – this...

What is ‘probate’?

Probate is the process of proving who is legally entitled to deal with the estate of someone who’s died. Commonly, it also describes the process of dealing with a deceased assets and affairs. Probate and Administration Technically probate only covers the situation where the deceased has a will which appoints executors. Where there is no will, or where there is a will but no effective appointment of executors, the process is called administration. Administrators are appointed by the court. Executors and administrators are together referred to as personal representatives. Executors apply for a “grant of probate”. Administrators apply for a “grant of letters of administration”. These are together referred to as “grants of representation”. Why are grants of representation important? Grants of representation are important because they show that the personal representative has authority to deal with the deceased’s estate. Applying for grants of representation – the steps involved Before applying for a grant the personal representatives must value the estate and report it to HMRC for inheritance tax purposes. Once the inheritance tax formalities have been completed, the personal representatives can apply for the grant of representation. To do this the executors or representatives will need to swear an oath. The content of the oath varies depending on circumstances, but it always includes: The deceased’s name, address and dates of birth and death. The personal representatives’ full names and addresses. A promise that the personal representative will administer the estate correctly. The personal representatives then send the oath, together with the will and any probate forms to the Probate Registry. Assuming all is in order, a grant of...

Who can witness my will?

Your will must be witnessed for it to be valid. So one of the most important steps in completing your will is to have it witnessed correctly. For a full description of the witnessing procedure see [ ] Your witnesses There are no particular rules around who can (and can’t) witness your will, other than they must be must be capable of understanding what they are doing. However, if a beneficiary of the will (or their spouse or civil partner) witnesses the will, thne that person will not be entitled to inherit. So, the following is good practice: Both witnesses should be over 18 (or at least old enough to understand what they are doing. Ideally the should to be traceable after you die, in case they have to explain to a court how the will was signed. Your witnesses do not have to read the will. You could cover the contents with a piece of paper if needed, leaving the area for them to sign uncovered. Their job is simply to confirm they have either seen you sign the will or if you’ve already signed it, that you acknowledge that the signature is yours. Once you’ve written your will online we’ll explain the simple steps you’ll need to follow to sign and have your will witnessed. Back to the knowledge...