Wills & Trusts FAQs

Wills & Trusts FAQs

Wills & Trusts FAQs

What happens to my estate if I don't make a will?
What happens to my children / grandchildren?
We are unmarried, what happens to my partner?
Who looks after my estate after I die?
When should I change my will?
What if I have a large estate?
What if I wish to challenge a will after death?

What happens to my estate if I don't make a will?

If you die without having made a Will, your estate is distributed according to the laws of Intestacy. These laws include a set list of people who it regards should benefit from your estate, however, the list might not contain the people you had envisaged

It is a common misconception that in the event of your death, everything will pass automatically to your spouse. Only if you have no other close living relatives will this happen. Similarly, if you do not make a Will, complicated legal disputes can arise over the question of "who gets what". Making a Will is the only way to ensure that you decide how your property and possessions are distributed after your death.

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What happens to my children/grandchildren?

It is particularly important to make a Will if you have young children or grandchildren. Through your Will, you can ensure that you protect their financial future and appoint your chosen guardians to look after them.

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We are unmarried, what happens to my partner?

Unmarried partners and co-habitees have no automatic entitlement to any of the estate of the other partner. The only way to protect this situation is to make a Will.

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Who looks after my estate after I die?

If you die without a Will, the Law decides who will look after your estate.

If you make a Will you can appoint an Executor or Executors who are entrusted with your property and possessions after your death, and who will ensure that your wishes are carried out. It is important to make a Will so that you decide now who this is. If you are married, you may wish to appoint your wife or husband, and many people consider grown up sons or daughters as another obvious choice. Alternatively you may wish to appoint a professional person such as a Solicitor to act as your Executor or to act jointly with your husband or wife or son or daughter.

It is advisable to appoint two Executors as this safeguards your interests should one of the Executors be unable to act.

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When should I change my will?

The most obvious time to change your Will is when you experience a change in your family circumstances. This could be marriage, separation, divorce, remarriage or the birth of a child or grandchild for example.

If you are separated but not divorced, your former spouse will have a claim against your estate after your death unless you make a new Will. If you are divorced, but wish to continue to benefit your former spouse after your death, then you will need to remake your Will.

If you already have a Will, marriage will automatically revoke it and you would need to make a new one.

It is also advisable to remake your Will if your financial situation changes or you would like to reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax payable.

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What if I have a large estate?

If your estate or the joint estates of a husband and wife exceed £285,000 it would be wise to consider making a specialist tax planning Will that is designed to save your benefactors having to pay large sums of Inheritance Tax.

Inheritance tax is charged at 40% on assets held over and above £285,000. Used to maximum effect, tax planning Wills can save £114,000 in Inheritance Tax.

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What if I wish to challenge a will after death?

A Will can be challenged after death if it is believed that the person who made the Will was either mentally incapable of understanding the terms of the Will at the time it was signed, or if it is believed that the Will was signed under the influence of a third party.

Also, if you believe that you ought to have benefited from someone's Will or estate, but this has not happened, you may have a right to make a claim against that person's assets.

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