FAQs - Wills & Probate

We are unmarried what happens to my partner?

Unmarried partners and co-habitees have no automatic entitlement to any of the estate of the other partner. The only way to protect this situation is to make a Will.

Making a will becomes particularly crucial in such situations, as it allows you to explicitly state your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and the care of your partner in the event of your death. Here's why making a will is important for unmarried couples:

One of the main reasons to make a will that includes your unmarried partner is because of Intestacy Rules: which means If you pass away without a will (intestate), the distribution of your estate is governed by intestacy rules. In many jurisdictions, these rules prioritise blood relatives, such as children, parents, and siblings. Unmarried partners are generally not recognised under intestacy laws.

What happens to my children/grandchildren?

It is particularly important to make a Will if you have young children or grandchildren.

Through your Will, you can ensure that you protect their financial future and appoint your chosen guardians to look after them.

Some things to consider when it comes to your grandchildren in your will:
- Clearly outline what you wish to leave to each grandchild, whether it's a specific sum of money, property, investments, or other assets. You can allocate specific percentages or fixed amounts.

- Include provisions for contingencies, such as what happens if a grandchild predeceases you. You may decide whether their share goes to their descendants or is redistributed among the surviving grandchildren.

- Specify the age at which your grandchildren will inherit their share. Some people choose to set a certain age, such as 21 or 25, to ensure that the inheritance is managed responsibly.

What happens to my estate if I don’t make a will?

If you die without having made a Will, your estate is distributed according to the laws of Intestacy. These laws include a set list of people who it regards should benefit from your estate, however, the list might not contain the people you had envisaged.

It is a common misconception that in the event of your death, everything will pass automatically to your spouse.

Only if you have no other close living relatives will this happen. Similarly, if you do not make a Will, complicated legal disputes can arise over the question of “who gets what”.

Making a Will is the only way to ensure that you decide how your property and possessions are distributed after your death. Our Wills and Probate solicitors are here to ensure you receive professional advice and support.

What if I have a large estate?

If your estate or the joint estates of a husband and wife exceed £325,000 it would be wise to consider making a specialist tax planning Will that is designed to save your benefactors having to pay large sums of Inheritance Tax.

Inheritance tax is charged at 40% on assets held over and above £325,000. Used to maximum effect, tax planning Wills can save £114,000 in Inheritance Tax.

Your families estate can pay Inheritance Tax at a reduced rate of 36% on some assets if you leave 10% or more of the ‘net value’ to charity in your will. (The net value is the estate’s total value minus any debts.)

In addition to the standard threshold, there is a Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) that may apply if you pass on your main residence to direct descendants, such as children or grandchildren. The RNRB is designed to reduce the Inheritance Tax liability.

What if I wish to challenge a will after death?

A Will can be challenged after death if it is believed that the person who made the Will was either mentally incapable of understanding the terms of the Will at the time it was signed, or if it is believed that the Will was signed under the influence of a third party.

Also, if you believe that you ought to have benefited from someone’s Will or Estate, but this has not happened, you may have a right to make a claim against that person’s assets.

When should I change my will?

The most obvious time to change your Will is when you experience a change in your family circumstances. This could be marriage, separation, divorce, remarriage or the birth of a child or grandchild for example.

If you are separated but not divorced, your former spouse will have a claim against your estate after your death unless you make a new Will. If you are divorced, but wish to continue to benefit your former spouse after your death, then you will need to remake your Will.

If you already have a Will, marriage will automatically revoke it and you would need to make a new one.

It is also advisable to remake your Will if your financial situation changes or you would like to reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax payable.

Who looks after my estate after I die?

If you die without a Will, the Law decides who will look after your estate.

If you make a Will you can appoint an Executor or Executors who are entrusted with your property and possessions after your death, and who will ensure that your wishes are carried out. It is important to make a Will so that you decide now who this is. If you are married, you may wish to appoint your wife or husband, and many people consider grown up sons or daughters as another obvious choice. Alternatively you may wish to appoint a professional person such as a Solicitor to act as your Executor or to act jointly with your husband or wife or son or daughter.

It is advisable to appoint two Executors as this safeguards your interests should one of the Executors be unable to act.