Wills Solicitors Glasgow
If you want to have your property divided according to your wishes when you die, it’s important you have a valid Will in place. For a Will to be valid, it must meet certain requirements. A Will allows you to leave specific items to loved ones, to appoint the person you wish to wind up your estate, to plan to reduce inheritance tax and, most importantly, a Will gives you peace of mind that your affairs are in order. If you’re thinking of writing a Will in Glasgow, we can help. Call the Will Solicitors team at The Glasgow Law Practice today for a free, confidential chat on 0141 413 4314.
“They kept me up to date at all times with no long gaps of guessing what stage the work was at and what was needed to complete it.” G Will
Write a Will in Glasgow
Our sections below answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding Wills and Succession in Scotland:
- What is a Will?
- Why make a Will?
- Are there any formal requirements for making a Will in Scotland?
- Writing a valid Will in Scotland
- Can you make changes to your Will?
- What should you include in your Will?
- Can you make a Will with a small estate?
- What happens if I die without a Will?
- Contesting a Will in Scotland
- Leaving someone out of your Will
- How much does a Will cost?
What is a Will?
A Will is a document under which the estate of a deceased person will be passed to various beneficiaries according to the terms specified in the deed.
It may, however, also comprise some related documents. For instance, the person making the Will (also known as a ‘testator’) may have a main Will drafted with later documents adding to or amending that main Will. These additional documents are known under Scots law as codicils.
Why make a Will?
If you make a Will, then your spouse, children and other beneficiaries will inherit your assets, in addition to numerous other benefits.
Under Scots law, everyone aged 12 and over can make a Will, and there are many reasons for making one.
When drafted properly, a valid Will allows you to do the following:
- determine the beneficiaries who will inherit your estate;
- appoint executors who will administer your estate;
- give your executors powers to act in the event of your death;
- receive assurance that your affairs are in order;
- make ancillary provisions, such as funeral arrangements; and
- take control of tax planning, particularly in respect of inheritance tax with the potential to save thousands, if not tens of thousands, of pounds.
If you die without leaving a Will, known as intestate, there are certain rules under Scots law that determine how your money, property or possessions should be allocated and this will, most likely, not be the way you wish them to be distributed.
Additionally, unmarried partners and partners who have not registered a civil partnership may not be able to inherit from each other in Scotland unless there is a valid Will. The death of one partner in the absence of a valid Will may, therefore, cause serious financial problems for the remaining partner. Similar concerns exist in respect of children, although under intestate succession your children are collectively entitled to one third of your moveable estate if you left a spouse or civil partner, or to one half of your estate if you left no spouse or civil partner.
Are there any formal requirements for making a Will in Scotland?
In addition to the Scots law requirement for you to be 12 years old or over and have legal capacity, under the Requirements of Writing (Scotland) Act 1995, Wills must be in writing and must be made in accordance with the legal rules which prescribe the required form for all Wills in Scotland. For instance, it must be signed on every page in the presence of one witness.
If the document was not drafted by a professional, there is a risk that it’s not legally valid. Possible defects in Wills include those where it has not been signed on one or more pages, where the Will has been handwritten but has not been witnessed, or where a pre-printed Will has been used.
A recent survey found that a concerning 65% of parents in Britain have not made a Will, while just 27% of adults with a child have a plan for passing on their inheritance. Don’t be one of them.
If your Will is not drafted by a solicitor or other professional, there is a chance that it’s not valid. In the past, the Scottish courts have taken a relatively strict approach to interpreting Wills in order to establish a completed testamentary intention.
Writing a valid Will in Scotland
While the approach formerly taken by the Scottish courts has been fairly relaxed in recent years, there remain certain legal requirements which must be met, such as the requirement that all Wills must be made in writing under the Requirements of Writing (Scotland) Act 1995.
A verbal agreement is not enough to constitute a Will under Scots law. Instead, any promise to bequeath (transfer) property to a person must be made in writing. Additionally, unless you have a solicitor or other Wills professional draft your Will, there is potential for there to be defects in the execution of the Will. That is not to say that the Will may be considered invalid (under s.39 of the Conveyancing (Scotland) Act 1874 minor defects may be curable) but there is a good chance that your intentions are not reflected accurately and you may be unable to take advantage of some of the other benefits of having a Will drafted professionally, such as the potential for optimised inheritance tax planning.
Can you make changes to your Will?
Yes, you can make changes to your Will after it has been drafted. As above, a Will is not set in stone and once made and signed it can be easily changed in the future by additional documents called codicils, which can take account of any changes in your or your family’s circumstances. You can also add a codicil to prevent ‘deathbed gifts’ being challenged.
Indeed, it’s important to update your Will to reflect any changes in your family’s circumstances. The most common situations that should prompt changes to be made to a Will include the following:
- if you are getting married or remarried or registering a civil partnership;
- if you are getting a divorce or separating from your partner;
- if you are having a child or adopting a child;
- if a beneficiary dies; and
- if you gain new assets which you would like to leave to certain people upon your death.
What should be included in your Will?
There are various main points to consider when making a Will in Scotland. First, consider how much money, property or possessions you have. These can include, for instance, savings, pensions, insurance policies, shares, bank accounts, etc.
Second, consider who you want to benefit from your estate. These people are known in Scotland as beneficiaries. It may be best to create a brief list of the people, organisations or charities you wish to leave your money, property or possessions.
Third, if you have children under the age of 16, consider who you would like to look after them or any older children.
Fourth, consider who you would like to nominate as the executor or executors of your estate. The executors of your estate are the people who help to administer your estate and carry out the instructions set out in your Will in the event of your death.
Other considerations for drafting a Will include how you want your remains to be dealt with, the appointment of a solicitor or executor to wind up your estate, the making of charitable bequests or small gifts to friends or relatives.
Can you make a Will with a small estate?
Yes, you can make a Will to provide for even the smallest estates. You may think that you only have a small estate and it won’t make a difference, but it gives you certainty about your affairs and gives certainty to your loved ones that survive you.
It can be difficult to organise yourself at the best of times and when you are fit and healthy you don’t really want to think about death but a few hours now can bring you a great deal of comfort in the future.
On top of that, your estate may be a lot larger than you think. Your house, if you own it, forms part of your estate and you may also have insurance policies or other financial assets that have significant value. Taken together and taking account of inflation generally and in house prices particularly your estate can end up being a lot greater than you imagine.
Intestate succession: dying without a Will
In Scotland if you die without making a Will then your estate is divided and passed on according to the law of intestate succession. These laws determine how your money, property or possessions should be allocated after your death and this is unlikely to be how you would wish them to be distributed.
You need a written Will which sets out your clear and final intentions if you want to be able to choose who inherits your estate.
What happens if you die without a Will in Scotland?
Your widow, widower or surviving civil partner is entitled to the first £42,000 out of the estate if you left children or descendants of children, or to the first £75,000 if there are no children or descendants. Your widow, widower or civil partner is entitled to one third of your moveable estate if you have left children or descendants of children, or to one half of it if you have not left children or descendants.
The children are collectively entitled to one third of your moveable estate if you left a spouse or civil partner, or to one half of it if you left no spouse or civil partner. Each child has an equal claim. Where a child would have had a claim had he/she not died before his/her parent, his/her descendants may claim his/her share by the principle known as representation.
As you can see it’s not at all straightforward and certainly not what you might have imagined would happen on your death. We have set out the executry process in Scotland in more detail here
Not only does having a valid Will make the winding up of the estate much easier, it also means that your estate will be distributed according to your intentions and you will also receive all of the other benefits of having a Will as outlined in our Wills in Scotland: Testate Succession section. See also our new briefing note, Who inherits if you die without a Will? [LINK].
Contesting a Will in Scotland
Challenges to Wills are not common but they are certainly more common than they were 20 years ago. Part of this trend is probably due to the increase in the complexity of the law and the popularity of pre-pack and template Wills where the testator doesn’t take specialist advice before making and signing a Will. While challenging a Will can be difficult, The Glasgow Law Practice can offer you advice and assistance if you have concerns about a Will of a relative or friend.
Wills can be challenged on several grounds:
- Capacity – This is where the deceased did not have sufficient mental capacity at the time he or she made the Will to be able to understand the implications of the Will.
- Execution of a Will – Wills;need at the very least to be signed by the testator and are more usually signed on every page and in the presence of a witness who is not a beneficiary of the Will.
- Undue influence and Wills – This is where one person takes advantage of a relationship with a testator to unlawfully persuade that person to grant them some legacy in the Will.
- Fraud and Wills – Where there is evidence that the signature on the Will is a forgery;then;it can be challenged.
Leaving someone out of your Will – Legal Rights and Succession in Scotland
Another area where parties not mentioned in a Will can have rights to an estate is linked to what are known as legal rights. Even where a Will leaves nothing to one or all of the children or the spouse the disinherited spouse or child still has a claim on the estate of the deceased.
If there is no surviving spouse, the children are entitled to share half of the moveable estate. If there is a surviving spouse the children share a third of the moveable estate. The spouse is entitled to a half or a third share of the moveable estate depending on whether there are surviving children. If you have any concerns about a Will then it’s important that you take advice as soon as possible.
How much does a Will cost?
We offer a fixed-fee Will writing service. We pride ourselves on offering an affordable, value for money service. To speak to us about making a Will and receive a quote for this service, simply give us a call today 0141 413 4314.
Wills Solicitors Glasgow
Based in Glasgow, Scotland, our friendly and professional Will Solicitors at Glasgow Law Practice can advise you on all aspects of making a Will. Call us today on 0141 413 4314 or fill out our online enquiry form.