News & Insights

What is a Will and why should you consider making one?

A Will sets out the way your property, assets and wealth are to be distributed when you die. Although a will can be changed at any time with little formality, there are very strict requirements around wording and how it is executed, so it is essential to engage a solicitor to ensure it is done correctly.

The main benefits to making a will are that it allows you:

  • to choose who is to benefit under your will and in what shares;
  • to choose someone you trust to look after and administer your estate;
  • to make provision for how your young children are cared for and supported after you die;
  • to plan for and minimise tax liabilities;
  • to ensure your partner or spouse will inherit from your estate. Unmarried couples have no automatic right to inherit from each other; and
  • to simplify and speed up the probate process after you die.

What happens if I die without a Will?

If you die without a valid will in place, then the rules of intestacy dictate who is to benefit from your estate.  They also dictate who has a right to administer your estate, for example your spouse will inherit your entire estate if you do not have children, or two-thirds of your estate if you do have children. If you die without a spouse and children, then the rules direct that your estate is inherited by your next of kin in a specific order.

  1. Your Executor

Your executors(s) are appointed to step into your shoes, to protect and secure your assets, to discharge your liabilities and encash your assets and to distribute your estate in accordance with your instructions set out in your will.

Your executor will assist us in identifying assets and liabilities, informing the beneficiaries of the will, finalising tax returns and completing the administration of your estate.

You can appoint more than one executor to act.  Despite a widely-held belief to the contrary, your executor can also be a beneficiary under your will.

  1. Your Beneficiaries

Having an insight into your assets will help us guide you through the various options by which you can benefit your loved ones.

You can choose to leave:

  • Specific assets which have sentimental value such as Jewellery, furniture and mementos;
  • Specific sums of money;
  • Houses, land and property; and
  • Legacies to charities.

It is possible to leave your entire estate to someone or leave specific sums of money to certain beneficiaries and then leave the rest of your estate (called the ‘residue’) to other beneficiaries.

The law also sets out certain obligations to leave a portion of your estate to your spouse or civil partner, called the legal Right Share.

There is a general obligation to make proper provision for your children although this does not extend to being an automatic entitlement to a specific share of your estate.   It is particularly important to take legal advice on this subject as it is complex and dependent at any time on case law.

  1. Your Assets

Your assets can be dealt with in different ways under your will and there may be ways of carrying out your wishes while also minimising the tax liability of your beneficiaries.

If you have assets that are jointly owned or nominated, then these assets pass to the other person by survivorship and not under your will.

While we would like to have a summary of your assets, we don’t need to list your assets specifically in your will. We know these might change over time.

If you have property in another country, we strongly advise that you seek legal and tax advice from a lawyer in the country where the property is situated so that you are aware of the local rules and taxes.


Should you have any questions regarding your Will, please do not hesitate to contact our private client team.