If the home is owned outright a new owner can be nominated in the Will and as such the title will pass on to such person after his death. A right of residence can be granted in the property for a specific timeframe, e.g. until the time they are raising the deceased’s children. After the lapse of such period, ownership may pass on to someone else.
Sometimes circumstances such as “Joint Tenancy” may also exist when the share of the property passes on to another Joint Tenant automatically. Sometimes property is owned by more than one or several other surviving owners of the property called Tenant-in-common. In such circumstances property does not pass automatically to the surviving owners but is to be distributed as specified in the Will.
If there is an outstanding mortgage on the property, the heirs may either repay the loan or make arrangements with the mortgage lender to remortgage the home.
Overseas property or any other assets should be in accordance with the local laws of that country. Therefore, the Will be in accordance with the local inheritance law. As other countries may have different rules than the UK, it is important to seek legal advice from someone having expertise in the local jurisdiction.
Any part of the estate which is otherwise not mentioned or unconsciously not included in the Will can be accounted for under “residuary gifts”. If the Will does not include the residual gift clause, the residual estate will be divided up according to the law of intestacy.
In the digital world, Estate is not limited to cash, bank accounts, and property but would also include digital assets such as social media accounts, websites, online purchases, crypto’s, etc., which may be of importance and value. Specific family members or friends can manage the social media accounts provided passwords and login details are shared with the Executors.
It may therefore be observed that a Will can include a wide range of situations, from defining the beneficiaries as to mentioning who will take care of the children, pets, or guidance for the funeral. The prime reason for writing a Will is defining how, how much and the individual amounts of the assets to be distributed amongst the family members, charity, or friends, and the individual amounts are also referred to as the specific legacy.
The remaining estate other than those included in the specific legacy is known as residue or “residual legacy” is the amount after settling any debts including the inheritance tax bill and the specific legacy assets. If the amount of specific legacy and inheritance tax bill exceeds the amount of the whole estate; anyone named as receiving the residual estate will receive nothing.
If an asset is to be split between two or more people, their individuals share in absolute terms or percentages must be specified. If the amount is to be bequeathed to someone, it must be described whether it will be from the residual estate or as part of the specific legacy. Generally, the inheritance tax is taken from the residual estate, but it also can be specified otherwise. There is also a possibility that the person who inherits the estate will be responsible for the inheritance tax due on the amount received.
Making A Will
A Will can be written by anybody by the person who owns the Estate, property, or assets, or he may do so by engaging the services of a professional. Alternatively, a Will written by a person himself can be reviewed by a professional, in which case it can be less costly.
A Will can be written on any paper and does not need to be in any standard format provided it is properly signed and witnessed as directed by the law. However, a Will with vague instructions or an invalid Will can cause conflicts and result in lawsuits between the beneficiaries.
The regulatory authority for dealing with Wills depends upon where the person writing the Will, lives. This authority is called The Solicitors Regulation Authority for England and Wales, the Scottish Law Society for Scotland, and the Northern Ireland Law Society for Northern Ireland.
Writing A Will
The route chosen to write a Will would depend upon the complexity of the state of affairs, assets, and how much assistance would be required in writing the Will. If the estate affairs are more complex it is a good step to seek professional advice because it is very easy to make technical errors in a Will which can even invalidate the Will or can cause conflicts between the beneficiaries afterward.
To avoid paying high fees to a lawyer, companies often provide Will writing services that contain ample guidance to make a precise Will. A Will drafted using the services of such a reputable and recognised company is likely to be more valid than by doing it yourself, and less costly. This option can be explored if the circumstances are relatively simple however, the risk of inaccurate reporting and levy of consequent still exists and there are benefits of engaging the services of a professional lawyer for the purpose. It is because a Will can be tailored according to an individual’s personal circumstances by the professional advisor who could determine what is it that is intended to be achieved.
If the family circumstances are complex e.g. person having more than one marriage, children from a previous marriage, existing or former partners, or family members or friends have special needs, even if it is desired such persons may otherwise not inherit from the estate. Sometimes the nature of assets held involves complex considerations and legal interpretations of rules as in the case of overseas property or if the estate has a higher value, it may attract a higher inheritance tax, which incidence can legally and remain within the confines of the law can be reduced, consultations with a professional advisor is a must. In short, it is always worthwhile to engage a professional in this delicate and extremely important task.
The person who is assigned the task to carry out the wishes of the deceased as elaborated in the Will is called the Executor. This can be a person of trust, a friend, relative, a solicitor or a professional executor law firm.