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Here is part two of the most common questions our solicitors get asked about wills:

What does a will really do?

In simple words, a will tells your family and friends how your assets and property will be distributed after you die according to your wishes.  A will basically tells people two things: who will oversee your estate and who should get your possessions, money, and property.

Do I still need a will if I only have one child?

The answer to this question depends on if there is a surviving partner or not. A child of a person who has died without leaving a will can inherit the whole estate.

But if there is a surviving partner, your child will only inherit if your estate is valued more than £270.000 and if there are more children, they will inherit equal halves of the value of the estate above £270.000.

So, if you want your child to inherit your assets after your partner, yes you need a will. Additionally, another important reason why you need a will even if you have one child is that you can name a guardian and an executor.

The executor will be responsible for supplying the assets to your child the way you would have wanted, and a guardian will be responsible for raising your child.

I was named an executor, but I don’t want to be one, what can I do?

An executor is named in a will as the person responsible for the estate of the person who died and sometimes there are more than one person named. Most wills include a replacement executor for people who are ‘unwilling or unable’ to deal with the estate.

If you have been named an executor and do not want to be one, you need to do one of the following:

  • Give up your right to apply for probate. You will need to fill in a renunciation form and send it with the probate application form.
  • Appoint a lawyer to help you and act on your behalf. You will need to fill in an attorney form and send it with the private application form.
  • Keep your right to apply for probate for later – also known as ‘power reserved’ – in the case another executor cannot deal with the estate.

Should my husband and I make a joint will?

A joint will is when a couple makes a will together to leave everything to each other and eventually their children.

Considering a joint will makes sense for many couples that have been together for a long time and have the same views for their future, but there is one key point that can be positive or negative for some.

As we mentioned earlier with a joint will, all the estate will go to the other spouse and will be distributed according to what both agreed on. Any decisions or terms in the will can only be changed with consent from both.

So, if one person dies, the other person cannot change the will. So for example, if they want to leave their property to someone new that wasn’t included beforehand, they won’t be able to. The failure to change the provisions can be a benefit or a disadvantage depending on your situation.

Read: We answer your questions about wills (part 1)

If you have more questions or need some advice on how to write a will, you can contact us using the contact form on our website or by calling your local office.