Wills and Trusts Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions about making a Will, you might find the answers here.

What Will Happen To My Estate If I Don't Have A Will When I Die?

If you don't have a Will when you die, the law will decide how your estate is distributed. This is known as dying "intestate". Dying without a Will means you have no control over who inherits from you. Someone could receive a part or the whole of your estate who you would not wish to benefit. Your loved ones may also find it more time consuming and costly to deal with your estate. A Will is the only way of making your wishes known when you die.

Is There An Age Limit On Making A Will?

Yes. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland you must be over 18, and in Scotland you must be over 16. There is one main exception to this rule and that is for members of the Armed Forces who are on active duty. They are able to make a special Will when they are 17.

There is no upper age limit for making a Will.

Is There Anyone Who Can't Make A Will?

To make a Will you must be over the minimum age limit and have "testamentary capacity" – often referred to as "of sound mind".

Simply put, this means you understand that you are making a Will and the effect that this may have on those who are dependent on you. It also means you must understand the extent of your assets and what you are leaving behind.

I Have A Disability Or Visual Impairment Which Makes It Difficult For Me To Read/Sign Things. Can You Help Me With My Will?

Yes we can. If you let us know about your particular requirements, we can prepare a Will that will be effective and appropriate for your circumstances. We will guide you on the signing and witnessing of your Will. If you would like to chat about your needs please call us. 

I Have Lived In Scotland/Northern Ireland, Can I Still Make A Will In England?

If you consider Scotland or Northern Ireland your permanent home you should have a Will drafted under the laws of Scotland or Northern Ireland. Wills drafted for people who consider England and Wales to be their permanent home are drafted under English laws.

We can write a Will that is suitable for you, irrespective of whether you call England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland home. 

I Have Property Overseas, Can I Still Make A Will In England?

Generally, if you own land, property or any other asset in a foreign country, you should have a Will prepared under the local law of that country. This is because of the complexities of foreign probate law: if you do not have a Will in that country, it may take a lot of time and money to sort out. This is why we do not include foreign assets in the Wills we write, unless we are absolutely certain that the legality and authority of the Will is going to be recognised.

Can I Make Changes To My Will Before I Sign It And Have It Witnessed?

Yes you can: please let us know what you would like us to change, either by telephone or by hand, altering the copy we have already sent you and returning it to us. We will then make the appropriate changes and send you another copy for approval and signing.  

Do I Have To Name My Children And If So, Do I Have To Change My Will If I Have Another One?

Not necessarily. When we receive your Will instructions, we will look at your age and circumstances, (if you already have a very young child, for example), and we will write the Will in such a way as to accommodate future children, whilst naming children you already have.

Can I Ask Members Of My Family To Be The Witnesses To The Will?

We strongly advise against this as it can provide grounds for a claim against your estate later or raise questions about the validity of your Will. All of our Wills include clear signing instructions which outline who can or can't witness the signing of a Will. If you have any doubts about who can be a witness, please call us.  

Can My Spouse And I/My Civil Partner And I Make Separate Wills?

Yes. You and your spouse/civil partner can make separate Wills. We offer both Single Will and Mirror Wills options. The Mirror Wills service is suitable for couples (married, civil partners or living together) who have very similar wishes on how their assets should be distributed. For this service you pay one price but receive a Will each. The two Wills will be mirror images of each other.

Our Single Will service is suitable for people who are single, separated, divorced/dissolved civil partnership or widowed/surviving civil partner. Single Wills are also suitable for couples who have very different wishes on how their assets should be distributed. Please call us to find out which service is right for you. 

How Do I Protect My Children's Inheritance If I Die Before My Spouse/Civil Partner/Partner?

There are several options for protecting your children's inheritance if you die before your spouse/civil partner/partner. The choice can depend on the age of your children when you die and what kind of provisions you would like to make for your spouse/civil partner/partner. Please download a form and give the team a call to see what options would be most suitable for your needs. 

How Can I Prevent My Property And Other Assets Being Taken Into Account For Nursing Home Fees?

We offer a special Will called an Asset Protection Will. Visit our care fee planning section to find out more.

What Happens If My Beneficiaries Die Before Me?

This is a sad event which unfortunately happens more often than people think. We recommend you review your Will if this happens. Depending on how your original Will was drafted, you may not always need to rewrite it, as it may include wording which takes the death of a beneficiary into account and names someone else to take their place. If you find yourself in this situation please give us a call and we will talk you through your choices.

Why Should I Have Irwin Mitchell As My Executors?

Your inheritance is a gift to your beneficiaries and it is important that such a gift is given without stress, worry or hassle for the recipients at what, for them, will be a difficult time. We can assist almost immediately following death if we are appointed as Executor in your Will. We can guide and support your beneficiaries on the appropriate steps to take and to ensure that your estate is dealt with in a timely and professional manner.

The advantages of appointing us as your executor include:

  • Competitive rates which we will be negotiate with the beneficiaries after your death so everyone understands our fees before we act.
  • An independent professional body dealing with matters to avoid conflict between beneficiaries.
  • Your estate is administered by a regulated law firm which has stringent quality standards.
  • The worry, stress and hassle is taken away from your loved ones.
  • Immediate advice and assistance provided following death so there is no delay or confusion over where to turn for help.
  • A dedicated person dealing with your estate who is on hand to help and advise your family.
I Have A Disabled Child/Child With Learning Difficulties. How Do I Make Provision For Their Care After I Have Died?

This can be addressed in your Will. Our Will Writers work alongside specialists in our Court of Protection and Trusts teams to help families in this situation. We can advise you before you die and help your family after you have gone for as long as they need us. Just call our team for a chat about the needs of you and your family.

Should I Try And Think Of Every Possible Situation And Try And Cater For It In My Will?

No. Making a Will isn't a once in a lifetime event, so you don't have to squeeze everything into it! A Will should reflect your circumstances as they are now, not what they might be in the future. We recommend that you should review your Will every five years or so, to make sure it is still appropriate for your circumstances.

As a rough guide, here are a few examples of additional situations where you may need to update your Will:

  • Change in family relationships: if you have married, entered into a civil partnership, moved in with your partner, divorced, separated, had a civil partnership dissolved, been widowed or are a surviving civil partner.
  • Family Growth: if you have become a parent, grandparent, see your family grow, or children have entered your life through a new relationship.
  • Bereavement: if one of your main beneficiaries or someone named in your Will dies.
  • Significant Change in your Assets: sometimes it is necessary to review your Will if your assets change or increase significantly.
  • No Longer Accurately Reflects your Wishes: The main objective of a Will is to represent and communicate your wishes after you have died. If your Will no longer does this then you should up date it.

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