The video outlines the main issues you and your solicitor will need to discuss before you make a will.
It explains the role of executors and trustees and the appointment of guardians as well as giving a quick overview of the various restrictions on the freedom of testation, the legal requirements for a valid will as set out in the Succession Act 1965 and the various reliefs and exemptions from inheritance tax that are available.
We hope you find it helpful.
Why make a will?
If you die without having made a will then, essentially, the law makes a will for you and your estate will be divided according to what are called the "rules of intestacy". These are set out in Part VI of the Succession Act 1965.
If a person dies without having made a will, the distribution of their estate will depend on their civil or marital status and whether they have children, grandchildren or other issue. If they are not married or do not have a civil partner or issue then their estate will be distributed between their next of kin in accordance with the rules of succession set out by law.
Briefly, if "an intestate" dies leaving a spouse and no children, then their spouse takes their entire estate.
If they die leaving a spouse and issue, their spouse takes two-thirds of their estate and their issue take one-third between them. If all the issue are in an equal degree of relationship to the deceased (e.g. if they are all children of the deceased) then they will share the one-third equally between them. If all the issue are not in an equal degree of relationship, the distribution will be what is called per stirpes. Say, for example, a deceased intestate husband and father had two sons and one daughter, the latter of whom died before him leaving her own children, then those children, the grandchildren of the deceased intestate, would take their late mother's share of their grandfather's estate between them, with the two surviving sons of the deceased intestate taking, as surviving children, the remainder of the one-third equally between them.
If the intestate dies leaving issue but no spouse then the whole estate is distributed between the issue, in equal shares if they are all in the same degree of relationship or, if not, per stirpes.
If there is no issue or spouse then the distribution depends on the degree of blood relationship.
All this shows that if there is no will, matters can become complicated very quickly.
If a person with, for example, a spouse and minor children dies without having made a will, the burden placed upon the surviving spouse is that much greater. One of the difficulties that frequently arises is that the surviving spouse can only deal in their own right with two-thirds of their late spouse's property; the other third to which the infant children are entitled must be held in trust until the children reach the age of eighteen. Complications of this sort - and the additional costs and burdens associated with them - can be avoided by simply taking the time to make a will.
A will enables a person to deal with their succession in a planned way, taking account of the needs of their spouse and children and any other loved ones or next of kin.
The will needs to express clearly the deceased person's intentions, it needs to observe the technical requirements of the Succession Act and it should take into account the various legislative restrictions on the the freedom of testation. It should also try to minimize tax liabilities.
In order to ensure that all these issues are properly considered, anyone making a will needs to consult a solicitor or, better still, a solicitor who is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, an international society of experts in inheritance and succession planning, the administration of trusts and estates, and associated taxes.