When a person draws up their Will, no doubt they have in mind certain outcomes they would like to fulfil for their beneficiaries, hence the intentions of a Will are captured within its wording and legal structure. This is especially the case if they have written a ‘protective’ Will such as a Care Fee Trust Will or Flexible Family Trust Will to protect family assets.
If you are appointed their executor, it is understandable that you may wish to administer the estate without assistance. This is often the case where a Will is simple and the legal and tax implications seem uncomplicated. (Do be aware, however, that you are liable to HMRC and the beneficiaries when calculating Inheritance Tax and gifts.) When a Will is more complex, however, you may inadvertently apply incorrect regulations which undermine the intentions of the original Will.
Trust Will complexity and the intentions of a Will
One of the common issues we see is that the executor fully believes they are following the terms of the Will without realising that a protective Will may be complex and include a Trust element. This means there may be limitations or complications which affect the outcome for the beneficiaries if it is not administered correctly, the result being the intent behind the original Will is unintentionally subverted.
In addition, the wording of the Will may be ambiguous, for example family members may not be separately named just referred to by general label, for example, “my children.” As an executor if you overlook a beneficiary who later surfaces you may be liable for their share.
You may be unaware of all of the deceased’s accounts, savings, and the full value of other assets, so you may fail to consider the true value of the estate.
One of the ways of avoiding this is to appoint the organisation who drew up the Will who understands the intent behind it, and has the expertise to administer it, to be an executor and complete the probate process with that knowledge. This helps ensure the original intent behind the Will, especially if it is a complex Trust Will is implemented and fulfilled for the beneficiaries.
Executor must locate most recent and valid Will
Over our lifetimes we may make a number of Wills to keep up to date with changing circumstances and may not be vigilant in destroying its predecessors.
In addition, there may be a situation where a Will may not be signed or witnessed correctly, or there may be concern over capacity or circumstances.
It is the executor’s responsibility to locate the correct valid Will. If not, and you apply the terms of an incorrect Will you will be liable for any losses the beneficiaries may incur as a result.
We strongly suggest when instructing your Will you take advice to confirm its validity and advise your executors of its whereabouts. Placing it in formal Will storage can help to overcome some these pitfalls.
Seek Probate assistance to ensure intentions of a Will fulfilled
If you are the executor of an estate, it is imperative that you understand the intentions behind the Will’s instructions, especially if it is a complex Trust Will and identify the most recent valid Will.
Asking Will Power to help you with the Probate process can cost-effectively take the hassle and responsibility of estate administration from your shoulders. In addition, as we are familiar with the intent of the Will when it was instructed, we help ensure the outcome is as intended.