For many people, coming round to the idea of making a will is a big decision in itself. It’s not nice to think about death, so it is easy to delay this important task well beyond the time when you should actually undertake it.
Then, when you get round to giving it your attention and starting the process, you realise there is a host of intricacies and terminology to understand, and further decisions to make.
But don’t worry: working with a specialist like us means we can guide you through the process, answering any questions as you go along and advising on best practice.
This means we can also anticipate some of the most common questions and so have answered a few of them here to ease the process for you, starting with “can an executor of a will be a beneficiary?”.
Can an executor of a will be a beneficiary?
The short answer is yes – an executor can be a beneficiary of the same will. In fact, this is a very common scenario, in which the person making the will (the testator) wishes a trusted family member or friend to both oversee their estate, and also inherit some or all of it.
There is one pitfall in particular to be wary of, though; and that is that they cannot also be a witness to the will. Witnesses must be independent and impartial, and being a beneficiary is not compatible with this.
At best, the beneficiary will lose their own entitlement to any inheritance. At worst, the whole will could be invalidated, leaving the estate subject to intestacy rules, where your wishes as testator are disregarded.
Is anyone excluded from being a beneficiary in a will?
In order to be legally valid, a will must have two independent witnesses present (in the line of sight of each other) when you sign it, and then sign it themselves.
Being a witness to your will is the main exclusion from naming someone a beneficiary. This means that just about any other person (or organisation like a charity) can be a beneficiary, just so long as they are not a witness to it.
What if a beneficiary is still a minor when I die?
If you have children, it is natural that you may want to make them beneficiaries in your will. It could equally be the case that you wish to make grandchildren, or other minors whom you know, beneficiaries.
However, if you were to die before they reach the age of 18, they would be deemed to not have the required capacity to accept the inheritance. They would achieve their full legal capacity when they turn 18.
This is not a problem per se. A trust will be set up to hold the inheritance until your beneficiaries turn 18 (or possibly a later age specified by you, such as 21). You should name your preferred trustees in your will (with their agreement), but there is no need to set up the trust at this stage.
Expert help with wills
If you think it is time to write your first will, or review an existing one, it is important to get expert help to ensure the will does precisely what you intend.
As a specialist provider of wills and probate we are here to help you whenever the time is right, so please reach out to us when you’re ready.