In order for your Last Will and Testament to be valid, there are several requirements that need to be satisfied.
Unfortunately, when we send a deceased’s Will to the Probate Registry to be ‘proved’ ie ensure that it is valid; many are returned as they have not met the specifications required.
This causes unnecessary stress and emotional upheaval during an already troubling time. When a Will is deemed to not be valid, the administration of the estate is then governed by the rules of intestacy. This may not have been what the client wished and a family member may inherit when the Will expressed this not to happen.
It is therefore extremely important to ensure that your Will is valid so that your wishes are carried out on death.
The simple list below covers the points to look for in your Will, to ensure it’s validity.
- Mental Capacity. You must be of sound mind, know the assets which you own and who you ought to have considered in regards to benefitting from the Will.
- Writing. Your Will must be in writing unless you are a member of the Armed Forces on active duty.
- Sense. Read through your Will. Does it make sense? If not, contact the Will drafter and get them to explain it you.
- Gifts. Do you own the asset in question in its entirety or is it held jointly ie with a spouse
- Signing. Make sure you sign using your normal signature. Signing the document must be in the presence of an independent witness who is over 18.
- Witness. A blind person cannot witness your Will. The witness cannot be named in the Will OR be a spouse of a beneficiary named as the gift will FAIL. If the witness later marries a beneficiary of the Will, the gift will remain valid.
- Amendments. These need to be signed by the Testator/Testatrix and witnessed, again by 2 independent witnesses. However, any amendments should be carried out by a Will Writer to ensure that the gift will still stand.
- Spillages. If you accidently rip, tear or spill something on your Will and the writing is still legibly, your Will remains valid! Although it is best practice to ensure that the Will is not damaged in anyway.
If you are even in doubt as to whether your Will is valid, go back to your Will drafter and get them to check it, or call us!
Bank accounts should be frozen as soon as possible in order to stop any activity, such as, direct debits and also prevent any further payments being received. Should payments be received after the date of death it is likely that these will need to be repaid as a debt to the estate. The accounts can be frozen by presenting the bank or building society with a copy of the death certificate.
However, when it comes to closing the account, this may be dependent on whether a Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration is required. The bank will be able to advise you of this since each bank has a different criteria by which they require a Grant.
Should a Grant be required, the bank account will be frozen until such a time as the Grant is presented to the bank. At this time, the balance will be released to the authorised person to be distributed in accordance with the terms of the Will, or by the Rules of Intestacy.
Should a Grant not be required, the bank account can be closed once the authorised next of kin presents the necessary identification and completes a ‘Small Estates Indemnity Form’, as supplied by the bank.
The Probate Bureau Ltd has always worked closely with the independent funeral sector and is a member of both the National Association of Funeral Directors and the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors. A large number of funeral parlours currently hold our probate leaflets and guides and recommend clients who are in need of advice to us.
Unfortunately, after the departure last summer of a long-standing employee who was responsible for maintaining links with funeral directors, we were unable to offer the same regular service to the funeral parlours as we had done; since the company was founded over 10 years ago. However, after a company reorganisation, we now have two new Account Managers who are going out to visit funeral directors as frequently as possible.
Our Sales & Marketing Director, David Spears, is now responsible for visiting funeral directors around South-East England and East Anglia. Whereas Charlotte Cumbicus-Gunn, one of our experienced Probate Administrators, has expanded her role to include maintaining relationships with funeral parlours in the Greater London area.
If you are a funeral director in either of the above mentioned areas, you should receive a visit within the next few weeks, if you haven’t already. If you require any of our leaflets or have any probate related questions in the meantime, please call us on our freephone number 0800 028 2837 or contact us through the website.
For members of the public who are searching for an independent funeral director in their area, please see our website for a comprehensive list of funeral parlours by area.
The staff at The Probate Bureau Ltd have got together recently to sponsor James Shepherd on a bike ride from London to Amsterdam. James is the son of The Probate Bureau’s Office Manager Julie and will be riding to raise funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Marie Curie Cancer Care is a charity reliant on donations to fund its work. They provide free, high quality nursing care to terminally ill patients which gives them the choice to die at home. Around 64% of people would choose to die at home if they had a terminal illness but only about 25% actually do. Half of those that do achieve their wish are cared for by Marie Curie nurses; who cared for over 31,700 people last year.
The event will take place from 26th -29th August 2011 and James hopes to raise as much money as possible through sponsorship. We all wish him the best of luck.
Should you also wish to donate to this worthy cause, please visit www.mariecurie.org.uk