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.
You can include in your will anything and everything owned in your sole name within England and Wales. You can also include money in foreign bank accounts but land in other countries is a different matter.
Special rules apply to foreign real estate and advice from a lawyer well versed in the law of the country in question is essential.
When writing your will, it is important to bear in mind that a lot of things can change between the date of your will and your death. It will be construed as if you had signed it as your very last act before dying no matter how many years have elapsed in reality since you signed it.
However, this rule does not apply to a description of some specific thing in existence at the date of the will. This is why you must be careful about the descriptions of property used in the will.
The man who writes his own will usually does so confident in the knowledge that on his death it will be obvious what he meant.
He fondly imagines that common sense will apply and that everyone will understand his intentions. That this is far from the case with the majority of home-made wills is something which bears repeating.
If the estate is a large one the sum of money at stake can be significant. If the estate is small the legal fees for sorting it out may well erode most of the benefit to the winner.
Time and again the testator's common-sense provisions end up in the courts for construction. The case law on the interpretation of wills is enormous. It seems that at some time or another almost every word a testator can use to describe something he owns or wishes to do has been subjected to the court's scrutiny.
It is not proposed to go over this here other than to mention one or two of the more common phrases that seem to trip up the makers of home-made wills.