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Frequently Asked Questions

Q) What is probate?
If you are named as an executor within someone’s Will you will need to apply to the Probate Registry for a legal document called a Grant of Probate which then gives you the authority to deal with their affairs.
You will need the Grant of Probate to deal with all of the financial assets and liabilities of the deceased including selling property, claiming on insurance policies, closing bank and building society accounts and to selling shares.

Q) What do I do if there is no Will?
If a person dies without a Will their estate will be distributed in accordance with the “Intestacy” Laws.  The deceased’s next of kin is entitled to apply for a Grant of Administration to allow them to deal with the administration of the estate.  An unmarried partner is NOT recognised as next of kin so cannot deal with the administration of the estate and is NOT entitled to automatically benefit from the estate either.  

Q) What are the rules of intestacy?
The rules surrounding intestacy are complex and you should seek independent legal advice before dealing with an intestate estate.  Who gets what depends on your marital status at the date of death and whether you have any children.  In summary:-
Unmarried – your partner is not entitled to inherit anything.
Married with no children – your spouse is entitled to inherit your entire estate.
Married with a child or children – your spouse gets the first £250,000.
The remainder of the estate will be shared as follows:

  • the husband, wife or civil partner gets an absolute interest in half of the remainder
  •  the other half is then divided equally between the surviving children

Q) We lived together but weren’t married or civil partners. Will I benefit from the estate?
If you weren’t married or registered as civil partners and your partner did not make a Will including you as a beneficiary you will not automatically inherit under intestacy laws.  

Q) I don’t have a Will but would like to make one. What do I need to bring to my appointment?
We will need to see proof of your identity, so please bring your passport and driving licence.  
Before your appointment, we also ask you to consider the following:-
Prior to our meeting, please consider the following:  

  • An estimation of the value of your estate  - i.e. all your assets and liabilities (including employer Death in Service Benefits, Pension Death Benefits and Life Assurance Sums Assured).
  • Who you would like to appoint as your Executors.
  • If you have children, who you would like to appoint as their Guardians.
  • If you would like to leave any specific gifts or money to anyone.
  • Who you would like to benefit from your Will and in what proportions.
  • If you would like to leave any money to Charity.
  • The full names, including middle names, of everyone to be mentioned in the Wills.
  • Funeral arrangements – i.e. preference for burial or cremation.

Q) Who are guardians?
A Guardian is the person you appoint within your Will to look after your children for you in the event that both parents die before your children reach the age of 18.  

Q) Who is allowed to witness my will?
It is vital that your Will is signed, dated and Witnessed correctly.  You must sign your Will in the presence of two independent witnesses.  Your witnesses must be over the age of 18.  They cannot be beneficiaries, or the spouses of any beneficiaries.

Q) When does my will become valid?
Your will becomes valid as soon as it is signed and witnessed and dated

Q) How do I change my will?
Please do not attempt to do this yourself as this is likely to render it invalid.
A new Will can be drawn up and once signed, the old one is automatically revoked.  If we have prepared your original Will, then simple changes are quick to carry out and are inexpensive. 

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