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10 Wills and Probate

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1. Introduction

2. Why should I make a will?

3. What makes a will valid?

For a person to make a valid will, they must be:

  • 'mentally capable' (which means they fully understand what they are doing in writing their will); and
  • at least 18 years old (though you can make a will if you are younger and on active military service).

The will must:

  • have been made without 'undue influence' (for example, without a threat from someone);
  • be in writing;
  • be signed by the person whose will it is (the 'will-maker 'or 'testator') and by two witnesses, who must all be together when the signing is done (see 'Who can be a witness?' below); and
  • be dated when it has been signed.

No amendments or additions should be made after the will has been signed.

4. Who can be a witness?

5. What does an executor or administrator do?

6. What is a probate?

7. Will I have to pay inheritance tax?

8. Who takes charge if there is no will?

9. Who gets the estate if there is no will?

10. What can I do if I think there is something wrong with the will?

11. What can I do if I think the will is unfair?

12. What if there isn't enough money to pay for the funeral?

13. What if there isn't enough money to pay the person's debts?

14. Terms used in wills and probate matters

15. Further help

16. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with Paul Elmhirst, a solicitor specialising in wills and probate.

Leaflet version: April 2019

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