A Will appoints a person or persons to act as the executor and trustee of the Estate. In most cases, the same person will be appointed as both the executor and trustee.
It is the executor’s role to administer the Estate. This means applying for the grant of probate, paying any taxes and debts, locating and selling assets and distributing the Estate to the beneficiaries. The trustee is legally responsible for any assets held on trust for a beneficiary.
The Will also appoints people or entities, “beneficiaries” to receive a share of the Estate. The beneficiaries may be family members, close friends, in-laws, employees or charities.
A testator can also state in his / her Will whether he / she wishes to be cremated or buried, or whether he / she would like to donate body organs. If you do wish to donate body organs it is important that you tell your next of kin and family members of your wish your next of kin will be given the final say regardless of what your Will states.
Whilst you are free to give your Estate to whoever you wish, the law ensures that you uphold your moral obligation to provide for those people who are financially dependent on you. A family member who has been left out of a Will may be able to contest the Will by making a Family Provision claim in a court. If the family member is successful, they will receive a share of the Estate even though you did not make provision for them in your Will.
A biased or insufficient Will can cause lasting heartache and disputes after your death and may lead to lengthy legal battles. It is strongly recommended that you receive legal advice about the likelihood of a potential Family Provision claim against your Estate.