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Do you have questions about your Will? Ask Cancer Research UK’s expert solicitor Rebecca Massey - £200 voucher to be won

(118 Posts)
CeriGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 01-Mar-23 10:43:51

Please note, this Q&A is now closed for questions. You can read the expert's answers from page 3 onwards.

Having a Will ensures our wishes are fulfilled after we die, from the distribution of our possessions to taking care of the people and organisations that matter to us. However, if you’re creating a new Will or updating an existing one it can be hard to know where to start or where to look for advice. To help you out, Cancer Research UK has invited one of their expert solicitors to answer your questions around your Will.

●Everyone who shares a question on the thread below will be entered into a prize draw.
●The Q&A will close on 15 March at 23:59
●One lucky Gransnet user will win a £200 voucher
●Rebecca will be back online on 16 and 24 March to answer a selection of your questions.

Please note, Cancer Research UK cannot provide individual legal advice to Gransnet users. For specific questions about what you should put in your Will and how to manage your estate, they always recommend talking to your own solicitor.

About the expert
Rebecca Massey is the Legacy Management Lead at Cancer Research UK and a qualified Private Client Solicitor. Rebecca has worked in the Legacies team for 10 years looking after the legacy gifts that have very generously been left to Cancer Research UK. She previously worked as Solicitor in Private Practice advising clients about their Wills and Estates’.

Cancer Research UK have a Free Will Service to help you pledge a gift to life-saving research. Here’s what they have to say about it :

‘Our Free Will Service allows anyone over 18 to easily write or update a simple Will for free. Whether you would like to write your Will in person, online or over the phone, we partner with best-in-class solicitors and Will-writing providers to give you expert support.’

Good luck with the prize draw

Insight Terms and Conditions apply

RebeccaMassey Fri 24-Mar-23 08:58:27


Can the sons from my late husbands first marriage contest my will when I have gone they had no contact with their father but have made suggestions they should be classed as part of any future inheiritance do I need to make it clear they are not entitled ?

This question is very similar to Q1 and Q26 and my response to this would be the same in that, In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you have the freedom in your Will to leave your estate to any individuals or organisations that you wish. You do not have to include siblings or any family members at all. This is known as testamentary freedom.

In Scotland, there is an exception to this freedom, known as Legal Rights. This gives a spouse/civil partner and the children of the deceased the right to claim a proportion of the moveable (non-property) assets of the estate. This is a form of ‘forced heirship’, meaning it is an automatic right that cannot be argued against – once claimed, it must be settled. Legal Rights do not apply to siblings.

However, in the whole of the UK, it is possible for a Will to be contested by interested parties or for a claim to be made against the estate after death. It could be that someone tries to challenge the validity of the Will in some way, for example, by saying the person did not have capacity to make it, made the Will under undue influence or that it was not executed properly. Or certain individuals may claim they were financially dependent on the deceased. While it is not possible to completely eliminate the chance of a successful challenge/claim, you can reduce the likelihood by seeking independent legal advice when drafting your Will, so that there is further evidence of your wishes and reasons for not including certain people.

RebeccaMassey Fri 24-Mar-23 09:00:01


I live in Germany and after a lot of deliberation and discussion with a lawyer have decided against making a Will as the legal procedure for probate is straightforward and we would do what would be done by law anyway.

However, I have money in England and half a house which I inherited on my mother's death. (I have one sister and we got half each.) We have joint ownership of the house which means that if either of us die, the other becomes sole owner. We want to sell it in the next couple of years, but are renting it out for the moment.

I realise I should make a will in the UK, but will this then mean that I have to link it to my German situation or can I just include a clause indicating that everything is covered here?

I intend to bring the money to Germany and am seeing my bank about the best way to do this but a Will must take into consideration that I could get run over by a bus this afternoon.

I would recommend seeking advice from a legal professional experienced in dealing with cross border estates. Although you will be able to make a Will limited to your assets in the UK, an adviser would be better placed to advise you of the EU Succession rules, what might apply, and the most tax-efficient way of passing your estate to your chosen beneficiaries.

RebeccaMassey Fri 24-Mar-23 09:00:39


Me and my partner have been together for 20 years. He’s 60 and I’m in my late 40s and we have 4 children and 2 grandchildren between us. My current will leaves my half of the estate to my children rather than my partner … if we get married does that still stay in place or does my estate automatically go to him? (My eldest has a different dad so I want to make sure he gets his share of my estate, and my partner has a large amount of money in savings so doesn’t need my estate!). Hope that makes sense!

The current law is that marriage revokes a Will unless it was made in contemplation of that marriage. Therefore, if you and your partner are intending to get married, I would recommend that you both update your Wills otherwise your Estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules of Intestacy. Under these rules, your spouse would inherit up to £250,000. Any assets above £250,000 would be divided between your spouse and children. Making a Will would be the best way to ensure that your children receive what you intended.

RebeccaMassey Fri 24-Mar-23 09:01:32


I'm 40 and don't have a will, I don't have many assets. Should I get one now?

Regardless of the value of your assets, it is advisable to make a Will so that your loved ones know about your funeral wishes and know how to distribute your assets, estate, including any cherished personal belongings.   Making a Will doesn't have to be expensive you can use our Free Will Service to write a simple Will. There’s information on how to use it on our Cancer Research UK website and you can find out more about the Free Will Service here.
Any gift made in a Will to Cancer Research UK are greatly appreciated no matter how big or small, as every gift helps us to beat cancer sooner. Over 80p of every £1 gifted to us will be spent on preventing, controlling, and curing all cancers.

RebeccaMassey Fri 24-Mar-23 09:03:54


How do I go about leaving a gift in my will to charity? Should I contact the charity directly?

Your Will writing provider can guide you through the process of leaving a gift to charity. If you’re considering leaving a gift in your Will, there are 3 main types:

1. Residuary gifts – a percentage of your estate. This is often the most straightforward way to leave a gift. It’s also one of the most valuable ways, because it’s not affected by inflation in the same way as a set sum of money.  

2. Pecuniary gifts – a specific amount of money  

3. A specific gift – for example jewellery or property  

But, there are other ways of leaving gifts if you’d prefer. We recommend you speak to your Will writing provider about the various alternatives.  

If you use a charity Free Will Service, like Cancer Research UK’s, the charity will be informed that you have left a gift so there’s no need to contact them directly unless you would like to. If you haven’t used a free Will writing service then the charity won’t be aware of the gift; you don’t need to contact them or let them know but it would be helpful for the charity to know and they can then thank you personally.

Cancer Research UK are very grateful for all gifts in Wills we receive as they fund a third of our life saving research.

RebeccaMassey Fri 24-Mar-23 09:05:06


We need to update our will to ensure our wishes are still relevant. I would like your advice whether it is also worth having a power of attorney set up at the same time.

As I mentioned above, Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are useful documents which ensure that your affairs are looked after by the people that you have nominated if you are physically or mentally unable to manage your own affairs during your lifetime. Wills and LPAs are therefore important documents enabling you to appoint trusted individuals to manage your affairs in your lifetime, if you are unable to, and manage your estate upon death.

A lot of people do decide to make their Wills and LPAs at the same time whilst they are in the process of discussing their affairs with a legal professional. You might want to seek professional advice to help with this process. Most Cancer Research UK Free Will Service Solicitors would be able to provide advice on LPAs but please be aware that there would be additional charges for the preparation of an LPA.

RebeccaMassey Fri 24-Mar-23 09:06:12


Can any of my beneficiaries be a witness when I am making my Will?

Unfortunately, a witness cannot also benefit from the will that they are witnessing. Under section 15 of the Wills Act, a beneficiary cannot witness the will, and neither can their spouse or civil partner. If a beneficiary (or their spouse or civil partner) does witness the will, the legacy or residuary bequest they were due to receive under the terms of the will shall be void and they will not be entitled to receive it.

You might like to consider using Cancer Research UK’s Free Will service. The solicitor you speak to will be able to advise you of the will signing formalities and guide you through the process.   

RebeccaMassey Fri 24-Mar-23 09:07:26


Please could you advise me if it is complicated to change a will to include new grandchildren and does it incur further charges?

The process of amending your will depends largely on the complexity of the amendments you wish to make. Simple amendments such as additional grandchildren can be made using a codicil, which acts as an amendment to you will. For more complicated amendments you can choose to redraft the will and bring it up to date. Whist using a professional service to amend a will is likely to incur fees, you are able to use a service such as the Cancer Research UK free Will service to help. The solicitor you speak to will be able to advise you if the changes you wish to make will be free or if they would fall out of the scope of the free advice in which case you may be asked to pay the excess amount.  

RebeccaMassey Fri 24-Mar-23 09:10:19


If i alter my Will, do i need to complete another one or can it be amended easily?

A Will can be altered by way of an addendum known as a Codicil. Codicils are useful when small amendments are needed such as adding or removing a beneficiary or including an additional clause in your will but as I mentioned above, some Solicitors might prefer to make the changes through a new Will. For more complicated amendments it is usually wise to discuss your current Will with a professional such as a solicitor who can review your will and you can determine if it still reflects your up to date wishes. You may want to consider using a service such as Cancer Research UK free Will service to help. The solicitor you speak to will be able to advise you whether your current Will can be amended or a new one will need to be created.

RebeccaMassey Fri 24-Mar-23 09:11:15


Are people better off specifying amounts of money or percentages bearing in mind inflation and property prices?

This depends largely on what sort of gift you wish to give. After your funeral fees, debts, and estate administration expenses are paid, gifts of money, known as Pecuniary Gifts, are usually paid out of your estate before is divided up between your residuary beneficiaries. Whilst pecuniary gifts are good for giving set amounts, they are limited in their ability to keep up with modern day values at the time you pass away. If you are concerned that a cash amount will not be sufficient to meet your wishes then it can be wise to consider giving a percentage gift instead to allow that gift value to grow and change in line with modern day values.

It is also worth mentioning that Pecuniary gifts are paid before Residuary gifts, so if the value of your Estate is reduced, for example by care fees, your residuary beneficiaries might actually receive less than the Pecuinary beneficiaries and this might not be what you had hoped to achieve. A legal professional, such as the Solicitors on Cancer Research UK’s Free Will Service will be able to discuss these issues more thoroughly and help you decide.

Nannan2 Fri 24-Mar-23 12:17:05

I had a will drawn up by a solicitor when the charities were paying for it done(the annual offer of free will drawing up) but if i wanted to change it slightly can i just correct it myself? Or do i need to do it all again?I dont expect to pass on having very much money etc.just personal items.

sylwright Sun 09-Apr-23 11:21:55

Me and my husband don't have wills currently. How difficult is it to have wills where we each own 50% of our house and will this avoid one of us losing out if the other needs to go into a car home?

sylwright Sun 09-Apr-23 11:23:22

I have 2 adult children. Can they both be executors of mine and husbands wills. Same question for power of attorney

Cambsnan Thu 20-Apr-23 07:32:17

2 of my daughters have changed their names (married) since I wrote my will. Do I need to write a no will?

nellenoxin Mon 24-Apr-23 20:01:37

Is a DIY will legally binding or is it easier to contest

janex Tue 02-May-23 10:31:26

I made a will on line do l need to register it or is that sufficient

Seasidenanny Wed 28-Jun-23 13:20:31

Very stressed about the best type of Will to make? We are a married couple in our 60s with children from previous marriages. Is a mutual will better than a mirror will for our circumstances?