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Frequently Asked Questions on Wills
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document that allows you to specify who should benefit from your property, money and possessions after you’ve died. It’s very important that the wording used in your Will is clear and legally effective.
Do I need a Will?
If you die without a Will in England or Wales the law will decide who gets what. If you have no living family members, all your possessions and property will go to the Crown.
What are Executors of a Will?
Executors are the people you name in your Will to carry out your wishes after you die. They will be responsible for all aspects of sorting your affairs after you’ve passed away such as notifying people that you have died, arranging your funeral, dealing with any tax bills, paying debt, collating information about your assets and liabilities and then distributing your estate to your chosen beneficiaries.
What If I have Young Children?
When creating a Will, one of the first thing to consider is Guardianship of your children. If you currently have Parental Responsibility over your children and they are under 18 years old, then you can include in your Will the appointment of a Guardian to look after your children whilst they are under 18 years old. This takes effect only if there is no one else with parental responsibility over your children when you pass away. The importance of appointing a Guardian is one of the main reasons why parents make sure they have a valid Will in place.
You can also include your children as beneficiaries in your Will even though they are very young. When this occurs it is sensible to consider the age you would like your children to reach before being able to access their inheritance, typical ages are 18, 21 or 25. Whilst the child is under that age then their inheritance is managed on their behalf by people called Trustees. These are people that can also be appointed in your will.
Where Do I Keep My Will Documents?
We store the original Will that you write with us completely free of charge.
Can an Executor of a Will also be a beneficiary?
Yes they can. There is no reason why any family member, friend or anyone else benefiting from your Will cannot be an Executor, as long as they are over 18 years old. Perhaps a more important question to ask is, are they willing and able to be an Executor?
Can any of my beneficiaries be a witness when I am making my Will?
No. A beneficiary in your Will should not be a witness to you signing it. The spouse or civil partner of the beneficiary should not be a witness either. If they do witness your Will, they will be disinherited.
Can I nominate the Dutton Gregory to be my Executor?
Yes you can. Dutton Gregory offers a Professional Executor Service. This is a popular option with people who don't want their loved ones to have to deal with all the legal and financial responsibilities of dealing with your Estate after you have gone.
There is no charge to name Dutton Gregory as an Executor in your Will. If we do act as Executor after you pass away, there is a fixed fee cost which is agreed with your beneficiaries, before carrying out the work involved.
Our fixed fee cost is calculated when you die and is based on the value and complexity of your Estate.
What happens to my Will when I die?
We recommend that you tell your Executor where your Will is kept. You may want to give them a copy of your Will whilst you are able. When you die, your Executor will need to locate your original Will.
If your Will is held by Dutton Gregory then your Executor will need to contact us to inform us that you have passed away. We can then arrange to get your original Will out of our big safe storage facility.
Once we have your Will back, we will confirm the identity of the Executor. We will then offer free help and guidance to make sure they know what their responsibilities are, and offer our professional assistance if needed.
Can my Will be challenged?
Yes - all Wills can be challenged. Nothing can prevent someone from trying to invalidate it. The real question is 'Can my Will be successfully challenged?' and this really does depend.
If your Will includes your nearest relatives and dependents such as your husband, wife or civil partner and your children, there is little reason why your Will should be challenged. But, if you exclude someone who might expect to benefit from your Will, or there is a suggestion that you do not have mental capacity or have been influenced or coerced whilst making your Will, then there is a real possibility your Will could be challenged.
You can try to avoid any disharmony by talking to your family and loved ones about your Will. This is particularly important if you are going to exclude them. This prevents questions about your motivation after you've died. Alternatively, you could write a letter to your Executors which sets out the reasons why you've excluded a particular person from the Will. This letter can be stored with your Will.
Can I use my Will to protect against care fees?
It's possible. If you are a couple, you may be able to protect all or part of your Estate by using a Trust in your Will. It is a specialised area and is vital you get professional Will Writing advice to ensure it is appropriate for your circumstances.
At Dutton Gregory we offer fixed price Will writing so you know exactly how much it will cost you to make a Will. We will agree our fee with you upfront before any works starts. Once we have provided you with a written quote for the agreed work to be done, that price will not change.
As part of the Dutton Gregory, our values of openness, honesty, social responsibility and caring for others are core to the service we provide. Our customers consistently rate the quality of our legal advice and services at 4.4 out of 5 stars.