2010 - 2017
Making a Will is not about wealth it is about making sure that what you want to happen to your estate does happen. It gives you the opportunity to specify such things as who will administer your estate, who will care for your children and who will receive specific items of your property.
The executors' oath is a document reciting the date of the death, the full name and address of the deceased, his age and the reason why the executors claim to be entitled to a Grant of Probate.
Where all executors are proving, it will simply say, 'We are the executors named in the will,' but circumstances may arise where further explanation is required. This is usually where the executors making the application are applying under a substitution clause in the will. For example, it is fairly common for a man to appoint his wife executrix in the first instance with a substitute appointment of his children if his wife has died before him.
In that instance the oath will recite the fact that the first named executor died during the lifetime of the deceased.
The oath will also state the gross and net values of the estate and contain promises by the executors to give an account of the administration to the court if so required.
It has to be sworn in front of a solicitor other than the one who prepared the papers. The oath contains a statement to the effect that the executors will give an account of the administration to the court and deliver up the grant to the court if so required.
It is probably fair to say that most executors who attend before a solicitor to swear the oath do not fully appreciate the seriousness of it. When they promise to give an account of the administration to the court they may not fully appreciate that a disgruntled beneficiary can obtain an order requiring them to do just that. Such orders may be rare but the time and expense involved can be considerable.
If there is no will, the paperwork for a Grant of Letters of Administration is in the same format but recites the applicant's relationship to the deceased and the reason why he is entitled to the grant rather than referring to a will.
Once the oath and IHT receipt have been submitted to the Probate Registry the grant will issue within a couple of weeks. The exact time varies according to which District Registry is used and what the workload there is like.
It is, of course, possible for the executor or proposed administrator to make a personal application for the grant. This involves attending the local Probate Registry in person. The forms are available from the Registry or can be downloaded from the internet in most cases. The forms for inheritance tax have to be completed in the same way.
The Capital Taxes Office expects as much attention to precise valuations, etc., to be paid by applicants acting in person as those acting through a solicitor. Personal application is best suited to small, uncomplicated estates although there is nothing to stop the executor of a large estate applying in person.
Once probate has been granted, the will becomes a public document. Anybody can obtain a copy. This is why caution is advisable when writing it in the first place.
Your words will live on after your death and may be the source of amusement or ridicule to later generations.
Local newspapers / websites often publish details of wills. These may simply appear under the heading 'Recent Wills' in the public notices column but those considered notable by the editors may be given more prominent treatment. A gift of a large sum to charity is likely to get you a large article and even more so if you have left the money to an animal charity or your own animals.
Wills of local dignitaries may likewise receive fuller coverage.
If your relatives do not want your will to be published in the paper, they should write to the editor when the application for probate is submitted. They may only request that the details be omitted; the final decision rests with the editor.
Proving the will in a District Registry other than the local one is unlikely to make a lot of difference as to whether the paper picks up the details.