Posted by Michelle Young, Will Writing & Estate Planning Expert
A Will is a legal document in which a person expresses how they want their estate to be distributed on their death. Many people put off making a Will, but having a Will in place can make things so much easier for your friends and family after your death.
In order to make it easier for you, we have explained some of the common terminology used and put together some frequently asked questions on Will writing and estate planning.
Given that a Will is a legal document, it is important that you understand the terminology. It is likely you will come across some terms that you are not familiar with. Here are the explanations for some of the most common terms used in Will writing:
An estate is everything an individual owns. The estates liabilities (mortgage, loans, credit cards, utility bills, etc.) are deducted from the estate’s assets (property, bank & savings accounts, pension, insurance policies, all possessions, etc.) in order to determine the net value of the estate.
Estate planning involves making plans for the transfer of the estate after death. The most basic step in estate planning involves writing a Will in order to ensure; the estate is transferred to the beneficiaries, the inheritance tax is limited and guardians are assigned for any minor children.
Yes, they can. An executor of a Will can also be named as a beneficiary. Anyone who is aged over 18 years of age can be named as an executor. Many people name their spouse or their children, but that does not mean that they have to be written out of the Will. Being an executor can be very time consuming, therefore it is worth checking with an individual that they are willing to be an Executor before naming them.
No. Anyone who is set to benefit from the Will is unable to act as a witness. A witness needs to be over the age of 18, not related and not nominated within the Will as a beneficiary or executor. In total, two witnesses must see the testator’s Will and see the testator sign the Will. The testator must also watch the witnesses sign the Will. Therefore, everyone must witness each other signing the Will.
It is extremely important that a Will is kept up to date. Government advice is that a Will should be reviewed every five years, but a Will should also be updated if circumstances change. Major life changes could include; buying property, getting married, separating/divorce, having new children/grandchildren or if the executor named in the Will dies.
A Will cannot be amended after it’s been signed and witnessed. A minor amendment can be made to a Will using a codicil, but this needs to be witnessed in the same way as witnessing a Will.
For major changes, a new Will should be written. All copies of the old Will should be destroyed and the new Will should explain that it revokes (officially cancels) all previous Wills and codicils.
Probate is the process by which a Will is validated as being the official Last Will and Testament, and the Executor is given the court authority. Probate can be applied for on the government website, a document called the “Grant of Probate” will be issued by the probate courts. Once in receipt of the “Grant of Probate”, the executor can then start to deal with the estate. You can only avoid probate if all of the assets are jointly owned and going to the other joint owner.
If you need any advice on writing a Will, Funeral Planning Experts can help, contact us for a no obligation quote.
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If you are considering writing a Will, you might also be interested in a funeral planning.
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