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Q. Who will look after my children when I die?

A. Please click here to read about the Guardianship of Children

Q. What happens if I die without writing a Will?

A. If you die without writing a legally valid Will, the distribution of your estate shall be determined by the Rules of Intestacy. Click here to read more.

Q. What is a trust?

A. Please click here to read our article about trusts.

Q. Can my Beneficiaries be my Executors?

A. Yes they can if you want them to. Today it is often common that those who will get the estate have a role to play in the organising of the estate before it is given.

Q. Can my witness be a beneficiary named in my Will? 

A. No. This will invalidate any gifts in their Will to the Witness. Their spouse cannot be a witness either.


Q. What's the difference between an Executor and a Trustee?

A. In most estates today, it is common to appoint the Executors as Trustees. The main difference is that the Trustee is the person responsible for making the decisions that maintain the estate whilst it is held on trust, before it is given to the beneficiaries. The Executor is the person that carries out (or executes) the actions and wishes of the Trustees during this time.


Q. Do I have to appoint a Solicitor or Bank as my Trustees?

A. You can appoint anyone you like. It is likely however, that when your estate is going through Probate, that you will in some part require some professional assistance. Our advice is to choose people you absolutely trust and ensure that the Will includes a statement that empowers them to employ any professionals that have not already been nominated.

Q. Does it matter if my Executors live abroad?

A. No, although it is always prudent to have some executors in the country in which you are residing.

Q. How many Executors can I choose?

A. You can have as many Executors as you like, but the Law only allows a maximum of four to act at the same time.


Q. What does an Executor have to do?

A. The main role of an Executor is to carry out the wishes of the Testator’s estate.

Q. Should my Guardians be Executors?

A. It is very common for the guardians to be executors. It normally follows that if you trust someone to take care of your children, then they should have some form of access to the assets of the estate to provide for your children. It should also be mentioned that there are some instances where the Guardian (e.g. a divorced parent) should not be allowed direct access to the assets, but go through an alternative Executor.


Q. Do I have to list everything that I own in my estate?

A. No, Wills are not shopping lists. If you want specific objects, collections or even amounts of money to go to particular people, then yes you should list these. However, what you do not identify in your estate (everything else not listed - whatever it is) is dealt with through distribution of the Residue.


Q. Do Gifts and Legacies have to be under a certain value?

A. Not at all, A gift can be any value you like (e.g. £10,000 or your house etc.).


Q. Can I gift to charities?

A. Yes, but we need to know the full Name, address and Registered number of the charity. All gifts to charities are tax free - so they can be used to reduce any Inheritance Tax liability. Gifts to charities, museums, political parties, universities and community amateur sports clubs are also exempt from inheritance tax. 


Q. Can I set age limits when gifts can be received?

A. Yes, this is what Trustees are for - to see that the gifts you leave are preserved as best as possible until they should be given at the time you have specified.


Q. Who can automatically become a Guardian?

A. Only the birth parents (if married) of the child or children have 'parental responsibility'. This means that unless the father is married to the mother only the mother has an automatic right to appoint Guardians. If you make a Will, 'Parental Responsibility' can be given through appointment of Guardianship to the birth father.


Q. What is Inheritance Tax (IHT)?

A. Inheritance Tax is known as a ‘voluntary tax’ as there are things you can do in lifetime to reduce how much tax you will pay, and also planning you can put in place in your Will to make sure you make the most out of all available reliefs.

Every individual has a Nil Rate Band of £325,000 (2022/2023). This is the amount they can gift on death without any inheritance tax becoming payable.

On top of this there is also a Residence Nil Rate Band (introduced in April 2017) of £175,000 (2022/2023) that can be used against your property if it is being gifted to your children or remoter descendants such as grandchildren.

Both allowances are also transferable between spouses. Your Will Writer will be able to advise you in detail about the tax your estate is likely to pay and what you can do to mitigate this. (from the Society of Will Writers).

Furthermore, if 10% or more of the value of your estate is left to a charity, your estate will pay inheritance tax at a reduced rate of 36% on certain assets (instead of the standard 40%) – this can result in some impressive savings overall.

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