A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that sets out how you wish your estate (property, belongings, savings, investments and other assets) to be distributed on your death.
In order for a Will to be valid, the person making the Will must be aged 18 or over and have mental capacity (that is the ability to understand they are making a Will and its effects, understand the extent of their property and be aware of potential claims against their estate). The person making the Will must not be unduly influenced which is one of the reasons why we insist on seeing the person making the Will by themselves.
A Will must be in writing and signed by the person making it (or on their behalf and at their direction) in front of two independent witnesses. If a beneficiary of the Will (or their spouse) witnesses the Will, the Will remains valid but the gift to them fails.
If you die without a Will, you cannot control who your estate is distributed to, as the distribution is governed by a set of rules called ‘intestacy’ which gives priority to certain members of your family but will not take into account friends or charities.
More important than the Will is the planning behind it. The Will is just the end product which, when drafted correctly can ensure your affairs are in order, appoint trusted guardians for your children and also detail your final wishes which can provide real peace of mind and avoid any misunderstandings in the future.
Using your Will, we can help you to pass on your estate more tax efficiently and help you ring-fence assets for your family and future generations in the event of a change of circumstances such as death, divorce, bankruptcy or entering long term care.
For more information about planning for your Will, please contact a member of our Wills and Wealth Planning team.
Are you perparing to make or change a Will? Download our making a Will preparation questionnaire to help you make sure everything is covered and that nothing is left out of your Will.