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 must consider the possibility of a beneficiary dying before you or with you in what the law refers to as 'a common accident'.
In addition, there is always the chance that your intended beneficiary will be charged with your murder and thus be prevented from inheriting. Divorce also raises issues.
In a typical situation a couple will leave everything to each other on the first death and everything to the children on the second death.
To cater for this, the will should state that, 'If my wife dies before me or the gift to her fails for any other reason I give my estate after settlement of liabilities to such of my children who are alive at my death and if more than one in equal shares.'
If a dead beneficiary has been left a specific or pecuniary legacy the gift will usually fall into residue unless you have specified that it is to go to somebody else in that event. Note that if a beneficiary survives you by even a few hours his estate receives the legacy unless you state otherwise.
Beware of using phrases such as 'to my wife and after her death' as this may be interpreted as giving your wife a life interest only.
A life interest is where the beneficiary receives the income from the investment of the capital fund but the capital fund is destined for another beneficiary on the death of the life tenant. Home-made wills frequently include gifts to this effect, the intention quite often being to indicate that if the wife has predeceased, the children, for example, receive the estate instead. Since the coming into force of The Administration of Justice Act 1982 there is now a presumption that the gift to the spouse is intended to be absolute unless the will indicates otherwise .