What is a will?
A will is a legal document whereby you set out what you would like to happen to your estate when you pass away.
A will can include decisions with regard to the care of any dependents, your wishes with regard to your funeral arrangements, as well as the distribution of your assets when you have died.
Wills can also be used to assist with tax planning.
Executors are the persons who are responsible for administering your estate in accordance with the terms of your will, and ensuring that your wishes are carried out.
You must appoint at least one executor in your will, but can appoint up to four. You can also appoint what is known as substitute executors, in the event that your named executors are unable or unwilling to act for whatever reason.
Your executors can be beneficiaries who are named in the will, and it is often useful to choose beneficiaries to act if they have a knowledge of your personal affairs.
Your executors will be responsible for:
– applying for Probate,
– collecting in your assets,
– discharging any inheritance tax or other liabilities which may be payable in respect of your estate,
– distributing your estate in accordance with your wishes.
You can see from this that the role of executor is, therefore, a very important role.
In light of this you may decide that you wish to appoint a professional executor to either administer the estate, or assist your family in doing so.
Whilst professional executors will charge for their services in this regard, it is often a useful investment to ensure that your estate is administered as quickly and efficiently as possible, and that your intended beneficiaries receive what you wish them to.
Children / vulnerable beneficiaries
A will is also a useful mechanism for ensuring that your children, minor beneficiaries or vulnerable beneficiaries are safeguarded.
You can choose to appoint guardians in your will, whose appointment would take effect if there are no other parties with parental responsibility to step in when you pass away.
Wills can also be used to establish what are known as ‘trusts’ so that assets are safeguarded and used for the benefit of named beneficiaries.
This is especially useful where the people you wish to benefit are very young, or may not have the capacity to manage their own affairs.
You can nominate trustees to manage your assets on behalf of these beneficiaries, and also give the trustees the power to utilise these assets for the maintenance, education and benefit of the named beneficiaries to give you peace of mind that they will be taken care of when you have passed away.
What happens if there is no will?
If there is no will, or the will does not validly dispose of all of your assets, then your estate will pass under what are known as the rules of intestacy.
Ascertaining to whom an estate would pass in the circumstances, or who is responsible for administering the estate can be a complex process, at an already exceptionally difficult time.
For this reason, we would always recommend engaging a legal representative to assist in making a will, so that you have the peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out, once you have passed away.
Peace of mind with Kew Law
If you’d like to discuss your will with an expert, or make the first step in ensuring your family will be taken care of in the event of your death please contact us to find out how we can help you.
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