Wills Made Simple

What is a Will?

A will is a legal document detailing how a person’s possessions will be distributed after their death.

The person making the Will is called the testator. The testator must appoint one or two people to deal with their estate when they die. These people are called the executors. The people to whom the estate will be divided up and given to, are called the beneficiaries and the possessions in question are called the person’s estate.

In order to make a will, the testator must have reached the age of 18 years old and be of sound mind, i.e. be fully able to understand the nature of what they are doing. The Will must be signed or marked in the presence of two witnesses, who cannot be beneficiaries under the will. The witnesses must in turn sign the Will in your presence.

A Will can be altered or revoked by the testator at any time up to their death. However, the Will takes effect from the date of death and will be effective as though the testator had made it immediately before their death. Therefore it is important to make sure your Will is kept up to date and reviewed regularly. Any Will made before marriage is revoked by law but the same does not apply after a divorce.

Why should I make a Will?

Making a Will is the only way to ensure your possessions are divided up according to your wishes. A Will also dictates who looks after your dependent children in the event of your death.

If you do not make a Will, you are said to have died ‘intestate’ and your estate is divided between your family members according to the Succession Act 1965. A lot of the time this will not be in accordance with your own wishes or your family’s needs. If you die intestate while your children are under 18, the state will appoint a guardian for them.

A Will is the only legally-binding way for you to decide, according to your own preferences, who will take care of your children after your death.

It is also worth noting that making a Will can substantially reduce the tax your relatives will pay after your death and makes dealing with your estate a lot easier for everyone involved.

How do I contest a Will?

If you are looking to contest someone else’s Will, there are a few grounds on which you can do this.

Paperclip or staple marks as well as rips and tears can arouse suspicion that the Will was tampered with.

You can also contest a Will by arguing the testator was not of sound mind when they wrote it or that they were unduly influenced by another person in their making of the Will. As a child of the testator, in the event you are left out of the Will, you can bring a Section 117 application under the Succession Act 1965 and argue that you were not adequately provided for during the testator lifetime. Strong evidence will be needed in order for you to succeed in contesting a Will on any of these grounds.