'What is a will?' and other frequently asked questions.

What is a Will?

What is a Will?

A will is a very important document that you create to give directions on how you would like your assets and property distributed to beneficiaries when you die. A will is also used to indicate who will manage your estate (the Executor(s)), and appoints guardians to look after children under 18 years old when both parents have died if necessary. Everyone over 18 years of age should make a will as it provides certainty and comfort to those that survive.

What makes a Will valid?

What makes a Will valid?

A will is only legally valid if it abides by the following points:

  • It has been made by someone who is 18 years old or over.
  • It has been made voluntarily. 
  • It has been made by someone who is “of sound mind”, and is fully aware of how and why the document is being written.
  • It has been signed by the person making the will in front of two witnesses.
  • It has been signed by the two witnesses after the person has signed the will.

For more information, visit the Citizens Advice website here.

What if I don't have a Will when I die?

What if I don't have a Will when I die?

If you don’t write a will before you die, your loved ones will have far more work to do after your death than if you were to write a will. Your possessions will most likely not be distributed the way you want, and with no document for the distribution of your possessions, your family has no control over what happens to them.

Do I need a Will if I'm not wealthy?

Do I need a Will if I'm not wealthy?

Yes, we encourage everyone to write a will, but especially if you own a property in your own name such as a flat/house, car, bank account, furniture, life insurance etc. The will is used to state who looks after your property if you were to die and who will receive the benefit.

Why use Wise Owl Wills?

Why use Wise Owl Wills?

Using Wise Owl Wills guarantees that your will is a correct, quality approved document that is personalised to suit you. Our process is quick and easy, yet ensures that the Will produced is of a high standard. Here are the key benefits of using Wise Owl Wills:

  • You can try our service for free, and see how your will will look before purchasing. You can abandon this any time before purchase.
  • Legal under the laws of England and Wales.
  • Easy to use: We provide a friendly questionnaire for you to follow, with help and guidance along the way if needs be.
  • Flexible: You can start making your Will and return to it at any time.
  • Complete security: We ensure that your personal details are kept safe with the highest IT security.
  • You pay for what you are given, there are no hidden fees or extra costs. There is no risk when using Wise Owl Wills,and we can confirm our wills are 100% valid.
How does Wise Owl Wills work?

How does Wise Owl Wills work?

Step 1: Follow our questionnaire. Our easy to follow online process will create a Will for you in a helpful yet logical way. We provide guidance along the way if needs be. Our questions are specific, and using your answers we create a personalised will. The questionnaire process usually takes around 15 uninterrupted minutes.

Step 2: Review your will online and pay when ready. At any time in the process, you can leave the questionnaire and come back at a later time. You do not have to pay anything until you have completed and reviewed your questionnaire. Once this is completed, we provide a summary of your will. If changes are needed, you can always go back and do so at this stage. When you are satisfied with your answers, you proceed to checkout to make an online payment.

Step 3: Download and print your will. Once you have paid for your will, a link will be generate in your Wise Owl Wills account. To access this, log in to your account and click the link, which will then automatically download your will. You can not alter your will after payment. You can then print off your will. We also provide details on how to then go about getting your will signed in front of witnesses to make sure it’s valid.  

How much does Wise Owl Wills charge for a Will?

How much does Wise Owl Wills charge for a Will?

View our prices. There are no hidden fees, and you only pay once you have reviewed and are happy with your will. All of our wills are inclusive of VAT.

Can I just write my own Will?

Can I just write my own Will?

Yes, you can write your own will, but there are some risks in doing so without guidance. If a will isn’t made under the correct procedures, it can be declared invalid. Additionally, if the will isn’t crafted clearly and logically, it is open to challenge.

Who can write a Will and can I leave what I have to anyone?

Who can write a Will and can I leave what I have to anyone?

In the UK only people who are 18 years or older can make a will, or members of the armed services who are aged 16 or above. There’s a lot of freedom in regards to leaving your estate to whoever you like under UK law, but legally you also have to provide reasonable support to all who are financially independent on you, such as your spouse or children. This falls under The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. Your will may be challenged by the High Court if you do not provide reasonable support.

When can I make a Will?

When can I make a Will?

You can make a will if you are 18 years old or over, or 16 years old or over if you are in the armed forces. You must also have the mental capacity to make a will – to understand what making a will means, to know what property you own, and who should be named in your will.

Is there anything I cannot leave in my Will?

Is there anything I cannot leave in my Will?

You can name what you like in your will, but if you do not own that asset/property then it will be ignored. If you own property as joint tenants, or own joint assets such as a bank account, then your share in the property passes to the co-owner and not through the will. You may have sums such as pension-death-rights or life assurance policies that are payable on death, which can be written in trust or have rules relating to their schemes so they are paid to relatives automatically and will not pass under your will. To find out more information on these, you should ask the pension provider/life assurance company as they could involve large sums of money. Foreign property may also be inherited according to the rules of that country. This could be in certain percentages to children, for example. To find more information on these, you should check the laws of that country.

What happens if a Will is made incorrectly?

What happens if a Will is made incorrectly?

If a will isn’t made correctly, then the government will not recognise it as a valid will. It is not correct if it hasn’t been signed in front of two adult witnesses, or if it has been tampered with. An invalid will means that the government will not issue a Grant of Probate certificate, which the Executors need to authorise their role, so they will not be able to carry out the instructions in the will. If this were to happen, a previous will may be used as a valid will, or if there is no previous will the person who has died is said to be intestate. This means that they have no valid document to say what happens to their property on death, and so the distribution of the estate will be carried out with government Intestacy Rules, which take no account of personal desires. A will may also be challenged by those that feel there be fraud, or perhaps a potential claim from a spouse, partner, civil partner and children if they feel as though there is not reasonable financial provision.

What do I need before writing my Will?

What do I need before writing my Will?

Before you start writing your will, you need to think about the details, such as full names, addresses etc., of these people:

1. Executor(s) – The person(s) you want to look after your property when you die. These are usually people who are trustworthy and have a close relationship with the person making the will. We suggest appointing 2 people in this role.

2. Substitute Executor – This person will manage your property only if an Executor has died or can’t help.

3. Guardians – The person(s) you want to look after your children when you die. They will act as a “substitute parent” until your child(ren) reach the age of 18, and will be in charge of their schooling and welfare.

4. Beneficiaries – The person(s) who will inherit your property after paying off debts, tax, expenses, specific items and money gifts. You also need to think about the details regarding your a. Specific items such as jewellery, furniture etc., and any money gifts to family, friends or charity, and b. Funeral wishes such as whether you want to be buried, cremated etc.

Do I need witnesses? What are they?

Do I need witnesses? What are they?

Witnesses are people who see an event. In this case, the witnesses are the people who see you signing your will, who will confirm that they saw this, and will sign and give their own details. These must be 2 adult people who are independent, and who must not be beneficiaries of the will.

Who are Executors? Are they the same as Trustees?

Who are Executors? Are they the same as Trustees?

Executors are the people appointed in the will who manage the estate for the person who makes the will. These are usually people who are trustworthy and have a close relationship with the person making the will. Executors can also become Trustees of trusts that are created in the will.

Can someone be an Executor and a Beneficiary?

Can someone be an Executor and a Beneficiary?

Yes, in most cases Executors can be a Beneficiary, as the person appointed as Executor is usually someone that you trust such as a partner or family member. If the Executor has an interest in your estate, you will also want to make sure everything is administered properly. If a professional person such a solicitor is an appointed Executor, they are entitled to charge for the work they do.

In what countries is my Will valid?

In what countries is my Will valid?

Our Wise Owl Wills meet UK probate requirements and will be valid globally because of international treaties. In regards to property outside the UK, however, there may be different rules to abide by in that country, and so it’s best to check any questions you have against the laws of that country. Please note that Wise Owl Wills are not suitable for Scotland, Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

What happens if someone I leave something to in my Will dies before me?

What happens if someone I leave something to in my Will dies before me?

If someone dies before you, then the gift that you were leaving them doesn’t go to that person or their estate. These gifts can include specific items, a money gift or a property. If this is the case, the gift will “fail” and pass on to other main beneficiaries in your will in their respective share as instructed on your will. For this reason, we suggest that you name substitute beneficiaries when writing your Wise Owl Will.

What happens on marriage, separation and divorce?

What happens on marriage, separation and divorce?

Upon marriage, your will automatically ends, and you need to make a new will as you will be intestate. Upon separation, your will is still valid, but you can make a new will if you don’t want your ex-partner to benefit. Upon an (official) divorce, your will is still valid, but any benefit going to your ex-spouse is removed by law. We suggest that you should make a new will.

How long is my Will valid for?

How long is my Will valid for?

Your Wise Owl Will is valid for your entire lifetime unless it is cancelled, which can happen if the will is destroyed/you sign a new will/you marry or enter into a civil partnership.

Do I need to set up a Trust?

Do I need to set up a Trust?

You can set up a Trust so that your partner has the benefit of your property for their lifetime, but also for young children. 25 years old is the suggested age for the children to inherit outright, though this can start as young as 18 years old. The property will remain available for use.

How do I ensure that my children are provided for?

How do I ensure that my children are provided for?

In the Main Beneficiaries section, you have different options on how to provide benefits for your children. You can leave benefits outright if your children are 18 years old or over, or your property can stay in Trust so that the Executors look after the property until your children reach an age between 18 and 35. You can choose what age you prefer your child to inherit on the questionnaire.

What are Mirror Wills?

What are Mirror Wills?

Mirror Wills are wills that look like reflections of each other, hence the name “Mirror”. These are usually for people who are married, in a civil partnership or life partners, as they are likely to have similar details.

What are Guardians and what do they do?

What are Guardians and what do they do?

Guardians are the people you want to look after your children when you die. They will act as a “substitute parent” until your child(ren) reach the age of 18, and will be in charge of their schooling and welfare. It is normal to appoint close family or friends as guardians. You can appoint one, two or more guardians, but we recommend 2 as it may get difficult otherwise. These people should be people you trust, and who are close to the child(ren). Guardians are not in charge of the children’s money, and instead this is the Executors job.

What are “Tenants in Common” and how does this affect making a Will?

What are “Tenants in Common” and how does this affect making a Will?

When two people buy or own property or land, they can own it as tenants in common or as joint tenants. If this property/land is owned as tenants in common, upon the death of one of the co-owners their share of the property/land will pass through their Will and be inherited by the named beneficiaries. If this property/land is owned as joint tenants, upon death of one of the co-owners the property share of that co-owner will transfer to the other co-owner automatically by right of survivorship, and will not pass through the Will. Spouses and civil partners usually own their homes as joint tenants, and so the survivor inherits the home with no Inheritance Tax. If someone making a Will wants a share of property which they co-own to be left to someone other than their co-owner on their death, then they need to make sure that the property is owned as tenants in common and not as joint tenants. They can do this by a process of severance.

What does Intestate mean?

What does Intestate mean?

Intestate is where someone dies without having a valid will, and so the administration is carried out with Intestacy Rules made by the government. These rules cannot be changed and do not take into account any personal desires. They will decide who will inherit and the percentage share.

What is Probate?

What is Probate?

Probate is the name for the overall process of administering an estate after death. This covers the collection of assets, payment of liabilities, and distribution to the beneficiaries of the estate. This may include obtaining a grant of probate and filing in an inheritance tax form.

Can I make a Will in Scotland?

Can I make a Will in Scotland?

If you have assets in Scotland, then it is possible to make a Wise Owl Will, but there are some issues that need to be addressed before doing so, as your Will may not be valid otherwise. Wills in Scotland are different to wills in the UK, for example the Testator must sign the bottom of each page of the Will, and the witnesses must identify themselves with their addresses and occupation (something which is optional in England and Wales). It is advisable to look into Will laws in Scotland if this applies to you before making your Wise Owl Will as we make no guarantees that our wills will be legal for use in Scotland.

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