Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
about Wills and Estate Planning.

What is an Executor ?

Executors are always appointed in a Will. They are responsible for the administration of your estate when you pass away. Executors must distribute your estate as directed by the Will.

What do Executors do?

The Executor is responsible for obtaining a Grant of Probate, where necessary, to obtain this Grant of Probate they must calculate and the estate accounts and show this to HMRC, paying any Inheritance Tax that is due.

Executors are also responsible for notifying all relevant organisations such as the Department of Works and Pensions, as well as financial organisations such as your banks and other relevant companies such as utilities. They are responsible for collecting your estate and are liable for the responsibility of safeguarding the estate until distributed.

Who should I appoint as Executor of my Will?

By making a Will you are able to choose who should be your Executors. Most people will choose to appoint a professional such as a solicitors, or 1-3 lay executors that are close family members or long-time trusted friends that you feel are able to carry out the duties of an Executor.

The duties of an Executor come with lots of paperwork and potential legal and financial liabilities to handle, and so makes sense to appoint someone who is strong in these areas of life.

It’s also worth considering if appointing more than two executors that they must all agree on decisions and the more you appoint the more difficult this may be.

Can a beneficiary of my Will be an Executor?

Absolutely, a beneficiary can also be an Executor, there is no problem in doing this.

What happens if an Executor dies before me?

If you have appointed more than one executor the others will still be able to administer the Will without issue and continue to do probate as normal. If you have no appointed executors or reserve executors survive you then this part of the Will would be intestate and someone will need to apply to become a personal representative of your estate to do the probate. This is often the beneficiaries of the estate, however, it is good to keep the Will up to date to avoid this as it does slow the process down.

What are legal guardians?

If you have children aged under 18 then making a Will to appoint legal guardians is one of the most important reasons why you need to have a valid Will in place. Legal guardians that you appoint in your Will shall be responsible for your children’s upbringing until age 18 should you pass away before they reach age 18.

Who should I appoint as legal guardians?

This is, of course, a personal decision as you’ll know best who the right people in your life is to take on this responsibility. The appointment of a legal guardian only takes effect should you pass away before your child reaches age 18 and no other parent survives you with parental responsibility. If you appoint multiple guardians do be aware they must all agree on decisions for the child and if cannot a Court would have to settle any disagreements.

Grandparents can often be a good choice as they may already provide support to the care of your children, but age may need to be considered especially once your children reach late teens. Siblings are another sensible option as they are likely to be similar in age to yourself and may well have experience from children of their own.

Another thing to be considered is location, are they in a different part of the country or the world? meaning children having to leave behind local connections. A final consideration is the beliefs and values of the guardians as they may be different to your own and are you comfortable with how they would be raised in regards to education, religion and more. Whoever you chose it is important to ask them and make sure they willing and to communicate your wishes in advance, this may help you decide if they are suitable.

If I get married do I need to make a new Will?

Marriage always revokes any previous Will made automatically, this is because by law you now have a new line of dependency, so yes you must make a new Will once married.

If I’m getting divorced do I need to make a new Will?

During the divorce process, your spouse would still be entitled to inherit your estate and so you must have an up to date Will in place stating who you want to receive the inheritance. Once the divorce is completed any part relating to your ex-husband or ex-wife will now be irrelevant, it would be sensible to review your Will to update it with other people replacing where they may have featured, this is especially applicable to the executor and beneficiaries of your Will.

What happens to any pets I have if I die?

It’s sensible to have responsible friends and family or even neighbours aware of your pets immediate needs in case of an emergency. Within your Will you can then state should look after them long term, you are able to also leave a sum of money for their upkeep if you wish to.

Does my business qualify for relievable business property (BPR)?

Business Relief is designed to stop inheritance tax being applicable to businesses as this is bad for the economy if businesses failed every generation due to tax. Businesses or interests in a business, and also shares in an unlisted company are all 100% relievable from inheritance tax.

Shares controlling more than 50% of a listed company are able to get 50% inheritance tax relief. However, you are only able to get these reliefs if you owned the business for at least two years before death.

What happens if a beneficiary dies before me?

If one of your beneficiaries dies before you and you have more than one, the others will take an equal share of the inheritance that the predeceased beneficiary would have gotten. If you have just one sole beneficiary you can appoint a substitute reserve for this scenario. You can also state in your Will any beneficiary that predeceases you leaving a child or children of their own shall take by substitution the share of inheritance their parent would have taken should they of survived you.

What are the STEP provisions?

STEP stands for the standard provisions of the society of trust and estate practitioners and these provisions go into all modern drafted Wills, avoiding the need for large amounts of standard clauses potentially confusing and increasing the size of a Will unnecessarily.

Can I put funeral wishes in my Will?

You can state in your Will some details regarding your funeral if you wish such as a burial or cremation or what kind of service you would like. These are designed to be a guide to your family to avoid any disagreements as to what you would have wanted, however, these wishes are not legally binding. If you have very specific wishes or personal words to pass on you may want to write a separate letter of wishes document to be stored alongside the Will.

Can I stop someone making a claim on my estate?

You cannot stop someone, especially a spouse or child, making a claim on your estate. However, we can include an intentional exclusion clause within your Will, showing you deliberately did not choose to leave this person an inheritance and so they cannot argue they were forgotten about when making your Will.

I would also advise writing a letter to your executors explaining why you chose to not leave them part of your estate. This is important as the estate can then use this in a defensive after your death showing why you made the decisions you made when you cannot.

What are mirror Wills?

mirror Wills are made by couples where most of their wishes reflect the others with only minor differences. These are still two separate Will documents dealt with as individuals, and one of you can always change your Will in the future without the others input or authority. It is just a term for doing two Wills at once used by Will writers, usually cheaper than two single Wills.

Do I still need a Will if I have no property?

Yes, the Will does more than says who should have your house. It also provides legal guardians for children, gives direction to funeral wishes, states who should be able to administer your estate and give what money and items you do have to who you wish.

What are potentially exempt transfers (PETS)?

This is money or property given away during your lifetime as a gift. You have an annual exemption allowance of £3,000 and are able to also use the previous years £3,000 if not used, totaling £6,000. Anything above this amount would still be calculated into your inheritance tax calculations if you were to pass away without surviving 7 years. This is known as a failed potentially exempt transfer. If you die within 3 years of making a failed PET it is 100% accountable for IHT calculations, after which it goes down on a sliding scale year by year until the 7th year when it’s 100% out of the IHT calculations.

Where should I keep my Will?

Once it has been signed and witnessed correctly it is then legally valid. You are not legally obligated to store the Will in a specific place or register it with anyone, however, I do suggest using our safe storage facility as if a Will becomes lost or damaged it is of no use. It is important to never attach any other document to the Will as any marking would make probate question the validity of the Will and if any codicil was supposed to be attached meaning it could be void.

Who can witness my Will?

Anybody with mental capacity and sight can be a witness to your Will, such as friends or neighbours or work colleagues. The only persons should not witness your Will is your beneficiaries or their spouse.

If you are diagnosed with any health problems that may question your mental capacity then it is advisable to have a professional such as your GP to be a witness, ensuring under their medical opinion you are sound of mind and the Will is valid.

Will I have to pay inheritance tax?

Individuals have a Nil Rate Band allowance of £325,000 and a potential Residential Nil Rate Band allowance of £175,000 giving a total relief of £500,000 before paying inheritance tax at 40% of what is over this relief. Spouses are able to transfer this relief to each other giving a total of £1,000,000 relief before paying any inheritance tax.

Who will pay for my funeral?

Your funeral costs are always the first charge on an estate before any money is given to beneficiaries, meaning you will pay it out of your estate. If family or friends pay for the funeral prior to the money from estate being available they are able to have this repaid to them. You are also able to take out a funeral plan during your lifetime to have the funeral prepaid for, which we can give more information on.

Can I make gifts in my Will?

Yes, you can make specific gifts of certain items you own such as jewellery or any other personal possessions. you can also make monetary gifts of set sums of money to be given to anyone in particular.

What is the residue of my estate?

This is everything you own that hasn’t been otherwise gifted already in the Will, this is usually the bulk of the estate in most Wills.

What is agricultural property, do I have to pay inheritance tax on this?

This can be inherited free of inheritance tax but must be land that is used to rear animals or grow crops, or under a crop rotation or habitat scheme. Farm buildings and houses shall also qualify for this relief. Although you must have had the agricultural property for more than 7 years prior to your death.

There are 4 simple steps to completing your Will with us.

1. Book an appointment
Call us on 01933 588 016 or complete the following form and we will call you back to arrange a time that suits you. We will also provide you with the things you will need to consider before the appointment.

2. Discuss your circumstances.
During your appointment, we will discuss your circumstances and wishes you would like to include in your Will. This typically takes 30-45 minutes.

3. Review the draft.
You will receive a draft of the Will to review to ensure you’re happy and understand the contents. You may have some questions we will help answer and make any required revisions.

4. Sign and complete.
Once you’re happy with the Will, sign it to make it legally binding.

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