Q : Can I change a Will?
A : Yes, you can change your Will, either by adding additional information on a separate sheet (called a Codicil), which needs to be signed, dated and witnessed just like your Will does, or, if the change is a fundamental one we recommend that you rewrite the Will to ensure that any additions are not lost. Important – because circumstances change, we suggest that you review your Will every 18 months to ensure that it covers all your assets and their distribution.
Q : Can I cancel my Will?
A : As a Will is only valid upon your death it can be cancelled by destroying it, losing it or writing another one (your last Will and Testament is just that, the one with the latest date on it)! To ensure that your wishes are acted upon you should store your Will safely and tell your Executors where it is. (See “What do I do with my Will?”)
Q : Does marriage or divorce affect my Will?
A : A Will is revoked if you get married after you have made it. If you get divorced after you have made it, any provisions in favour of your ex-spouse will be cancelled unless the Will states otherwise. Therefore it is essential that you consider writing a new Will if there are major changes to your marital circumstances. (See Marriage)
Q : Can a Will be changed after my death?
A : At present, a Will can be changed after your death on two grounds; if all the beneficiaries agree to redistribution of the assets, or to make the Will more Inheritance Tax efficient. However, anyone can contest a Will if they have grounds to, so any reasons for leaving someone out of your Will should be written in a Letter of Wishes and stored with your Will for your Executors to read on your death. The court will consider this as part of its judgement. (See Varying a Will after death)
Q : What is a Civil Partnership?
A : They came into force in December 2006; it is a legal agreement that can be entered into from then on by same sex couples, giving them all the same rights that heterosexual married couples have enjoyed in the past.
Execution of the Will
Q : What do Executors do?
A : An Executor acts on your behalf to ensure that the instructions in your Will are carried out. You are responsible for appointing the Executors of your Will and they can friends, members of your family or a professional person such as Kings Court Corporation. Executors can be beneficiaries as well.
Q : What’s the difference between an Executor and a Trustee?
A : An Executor administers your Will, is responsible for paying the correct amount of Inheritance Tax from your estate, and obtains a Grant of Probate, which is legal permission to give your assets to your beneficiaries in the way your Will states. When this has been done, they (or perhaps other people, but normally it is your Executors) turn into your Trustees if any trusts need setting up at this point (for example, if you leave something to someone under eighteen in England and Wales, the asset needs to be put into trust until the beneficiary comes of age) . A trustee has the responsibility to manage any assets you put in trust. They must ensure that the terms of the trust are applied for the good of the trust beneficiary.