How do I find out if I am a beneficiary?
Often, if you are a beneficiary, the person leaving a Will will contact you to notify you. If, after the person has died, you remain unaware of any inheritance you may have, there are ways to find out if indeed you are a beneficiary.
- Search through the property (ensure you have the permission of the person whose property this now is).
- Ask the witnesses of the Will or family, friends, or neighbours as they might know the contents of the Will or its whereabouts.
- Check the bank or solicitor the person may have used as they may have a copy (nowadays, it is less likely for a bank to hold a copy, but it is still worth a try).
- Carry out a Will search.
Can there be multiple beneficiaries of a Will?
When writing a Will, you can choose to have multiple beneficiaries. It is entirely up to you how you distribute your estate, and contrary to popular belief, you can have more than one primary beneficiary. Having two primary beneficiaries is referred to as co-beneficiaries.
It is possible to name businesses, organisations or trusts as beneficiaries – this is often done in the cases of larger estates or when the person has no family and is unsure who to leave their estate to.
When the person has multiple children, they will often decide on having multiple primary beneficiaries (co-beneficiaries). There are no rules that state a person must distribute their estate equally among children; however, it often reduces the eventuality of contested probate following the person’s death.
Can a beneficiary of a Will be an executor?
An executor sorts out the estate of the person who has died. The executor has the authority to manage the estate’s affairs, granted by the probate court. They can use the finance left by the deceased in any way they see fit to fulfil their wishes.
It is not uncommon for the executor of a Will to be a beneficiary. Many people choose their spouse or child/children to be their executor/s as they trust them to fulfil their wishes. A person can select up to four executors to organise the outcome of their estate, and those executors should work together to ensure the person’s wishes are met.
How do I name people as beneficiaries?
When writing your Will, you should include all beneficiaries you want to have in the distribution of your estate. You should ensure your writing is clear and concise.
Here are some things to include when naming your beneficiaries:
- Full name (include any names they are also known, e.g., ‘nicknames’).
- Their relationship to you.
- Their full address (be sure to update this accordingly if they ever move house – even if the person has moved after the Execution of the Will, it is better to have a recent address rather than no address at all!).
There aren’t any legal requirements stating you have to include the details of any beneficiaries of your Will. Still, it will likely benefit your executors to ensure that your wishes are upheld.
How can I increase the likelihood the wishes in my Will are upheld?
It is impossible to guarantee that your Will won’t be contested after you die, but there are a few things you can do, both formal and personal, to reduce the chances of this happening.
- Ensure your Will is signed by the testator and in front of witnesses.
- Exclude any people you see relevant; this may be a spouse, former spouse, partner, child, stepchild, or anyone maintained by you. It is best to make the reasoning clear as to why you do not want them included.
- Ask a medical professional to witness the Will and provide a report about your ‘testamentary capacity’.
- Store your Will safely.
- Ensure your wishes are written in detail.
- Destroy any previous or outdated versions.
- Keep up to date with how the law may affect your Will. Be sure to update your Will accordingly.
- Instruct a professional to help you. In recent years, there has been an increase in online Will writing, but this is often not safe or reliable, so be sure to instruct a solicitor to support you through the process.
Wills Drafting Solicitors in Kent
Jarmans Solicitors in Sittingbourne, Kent, have an excellent Wills and probate team to support you throughout the initial Will writing process and can update it when required.
We also offer a FREE Will review service to help ensure your Will is up to date and accurate.