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The Rules Surrounding Wills

The Rules Surrounding Wills

It is still the case that an alarming number of people have not written a will. For these people, the laws of intestacy will apply.


If however, we do write a will, we can decide to whom we leave our assets, as well as who will deal with our estate; in other words, we can choose our own executors. We can also appoint guardians if we have small children.

Requirements for a Legal Will

For a will to be valid legally, the testator must be over 18 and in sound mind. They must also have made the will voluntarily. The will must be in writing and signed in the presence of two witnesses, who are also over the age of 18 and are not named beneficiaries.

The Laws of Intestacy

If we don’t make a will, then the laws of intestacy will apply; these state that any personal belongings and the amount of £250,000 will go to a spouse as well as half of the remaining estate. The other half will go to children. If there are no children, then the surviving spouse receives the whole estate.

A will only becomes a legal document on death so can be destroyed and a new one made that revokes all previous wills. In fact, the wording usually states that it revokes all former wills and codicils. The testator must have mental capacity and the intention to revoke.

A will only becomes a legal document on death so can be destroyed and a new one made that revokes all previous wills. Click To Tweet


Life-Changing Events

When someone gets married or enters into a civil partnership, their will is automatically cancelled (unless the will states that it was made in anticipation of the partnership or marriage).

Divorce does not cancel a will, but any gifts to the ex-spouse or civil partner will fail, and divorce also cancels the ex as executor.

It is possible to pick up a will pack from a local stationery shop, and for those with straightforward estates, this might be a simple and inexpensive solution. However, for those of us who have children but aren’t married, or have children from previous relationships, it may be wiser to seek the professional guidance and help of a solicitor.

Wills should be reviewed at least every 5 years and certainly after any life-changing event such as having children, moving home and certainly after divorce and marriage.

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