A will is essentially a legal document in which a person records their last wishes before they die and describes the rights of others over their property after their death.
A person making a will (known as a testator) either signs their will personally, or has it signed by someone in his/her presence and at his/her direction.
A will is more properly termed a ‘last will and testament’ – a will deals with land and buildings and a testament with any sort of property, for example money, furniture or stock.
The person making the will is called the testator while those who are left goods and property in a will are known as beneficiaries.
Those who are appointed to administer the terms of the will (that is to carry out the wishes of the testator as laid down in the will) are known as executors.
It is possible for a person to amend their will at any time, or even several times. These amendments are known as codicils and have to be separately dated and attested in the same way as a will.
Wills only take effect after the person dies and after they have been proved in court, that is a grant of probate has been issued. The grant of probate authenticates the will and gives the executors the power to administer the estate. Probate can take weeks, months or even years.
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate advice and services on Estate Planning or Will writing.
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