What’s in a will
A will is a legal declaration of a person's wishes for what happens to their estate after death. In Scotland, it should be signed on every page. There can be a lot of information in a will, but generally, the 'highlights' are:
- who is appointed to carry out the instructions in the will - the executor(s)
- special arrangements for children and/or pets
- if any specific items or assets have been left to someone in particular
- who is due to inherit whatever is left over at the end - these people are called ‘residual beneficiaries’
Legal rights of spouses and children
In Scotland, a spouse and any children can never be written out of a will - they are always entitled to their ‘legal rights’.
Even if they are provided for in a will, their legal rights may be of higher value. If there is no will, legal rights are dealt with by the rules of intestacy.
Changing a will
The terms of a will can be changed within 2 years of the death as long as anyone who stands to lose out is in agreement. This can be useful to:
- reduce a beneficiary’s own future inheritance tax bill
- change who receives money from the estate (was someone left out?)
- move the deceased’s assets into a trust
- clear up any uncertainty over the will
- reduce other tax liabilities like capital gains and income tax.