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MAKE YOUR FREE Last will and testament for Scotland

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Overview of the Last will and testament for Scotland

This document is for Scotland only.

Put your mind at ease with this straightforward last will and testament for Scotland. Having an up-to-date will is important. Doing so means that you can be confident that the people and causes that you care about will inherit your property, money and possessions in the way you want after you die. 

Use this last will and testament:

  • if you want to set out who you want to inherit your estate

  • if you want to appoint a guardian for your children

  • if you want to appoint executors to deal with your estate

This last will and testament covers:

  • the testator's details

  • the testator's alternative name

  • the executor's details

  • substitute executors

  • children under 18

  • appointing a guardian

  • witness details

A will sets out how someone's estate - which includes property, savings and other assets - should be distributed after their death. It's essentially a written set of instructions which specifies the beneficiaries who will inherit the estate of the deceased, and the executors who will ensure that assets are distributed according to the wishes contained in the will.

It's very important for you to make a will whether or not you think you have many possessions, property or much money. If you die without having a written will, known as dying intestate, your assets and estate will pass in accordance with the rights of succession. This may not be the way that you would have wished your money and possessions to be distributed.

You should think about what you want included in your will. A will can cover a range of issues, including:

  • who should inherit your property, money, other assets and possessions

  • how your children should be cared for

  • who should be responsible for looking after your estate (the executors)

  • special arrangements for your funeral

  • and charitable donations you would like to make

You should think about how much money and what property and possessions you have, for example, property, savings, occupational and personal pensions, insurance policies, bank and building society accounts, shares.

If you want to include digital assets in your will, for example, music and text; social media accounts; online photograph albums, online gaming identities, you will need to make a list of how to access all these accounts. You may need specialist legal help because there could be issues about your online account being American, for example, and not covered under Scottish executry law.

You may need to think about who should look after any children under 16 and what provisions need to be made for them and any older children.

If you want to leave property to a transgender person you must seek advice as you may have to refer to the person in their acquired gender, not their birth gender.

Extra care needs to be taken when you are making a will and including instructions about property such as your house or flat. In some cases there may be a clause in the title deeds called a 'survivorship destination' clause. These clauses can override what it says about the property in a will. A solicitor can give advice about the impact of these clauses.

Executors are the people who will be responsible for dealing with your estate (property and possessions) and carrying out your wishes in accordance with your will. They will have to collect together all the assets of the estate and deal with all the paperwork. They may have to pay all the debts, taxes, funeral and administration costs out of money in the estate. They will need to pay out the financial assets and other possessions and transfer any property to beneficiaries.

When appointing an executor you should make sure that they are aware you would like them to act as an executor. If someone does not want to be named as an executor in your will they can refuse. Furthermore, being an executor comes with a lot of responsibility and administration. You should choose people whom you trust or those with special client relationships. People most commonly appointed as executors are:

  • relatives

  • friends

  • solicitors 

  • accountants

If you do not appoint any executors in your will the court will have to do this after your death. Once the court appoints an executor that person cannot resign or take on other executors without going back to the court for permission.

It is not necessary to appoint more than one executor although it is advisable to do so, for example, in case one of them dies.

If an executor dies, any other surviving executor(s) can deal with the estate. If there are no surviving executors, the court can appoint one.

In order for a will to be valid, it must be:

  • made by a person who is 12 years old or over and

  • made voluntarily and without pressure from any other person; and

  • made by a person who is of sound mind. This means the person must be fully aware of the nature of the document being written or signed and aware of the property and the identity of the people who may inherit; and

  • made in writing; and

  • signed by the person making the will on every page; and

  • signed by the person in front of a witness.

As soon as the will is signed and witnessed, it is valid.

Once a will has been made the original document should be kept in a safe place. There are a number of places where you can keep a will:

  • with a solicitor. Make sure that someone knows which solicitor’s office holds the original will

  • at a bank although it may charge an annual fee

  • at home. If you keep a copy at home it is a good idea to put it in an envelope that is clearly labelled. It is generally not a good idea to keep an original will at home as it can get damaged.

For further information Storing your will.

When you make a will, it's important to keep it up-to-date to take account of any changes in circumstances. The most common changes of circumstances which can affect your will are:

  • getting married, remarried or registering a civil partnership

  • getting divorced, dissolving a civil partnership or separating

  • the birth or adoption of children, if you wish to add these as beneficiaries in a will

  • the death of a beneficiary

  • any new assets

If you do not change your will after a marriage or registration of a civil partnership the existing will is still valid. From 1 November 2016, getting divorced or ending a civil partnership does affect a will. If you have left a gift in your will to your spouse or your civil partner, it will not take effect if you get divorced or end your civil partnership.

If there has been a change in circumstances, then you may want to consider updating your will. However you cannot amend the original will once it has been signed and witnessed. Any obvious alterations to the will are assumed to have been made at a later date, do not form part of the original legally valid will and can give rise to expensive legal proceedings to establish which is the valid will.

The only way you can change a will is by making a codicil to the will or a new will. 

A codicil is a document that needs to be signed and executed in the same way as a will. However it allows for changes or amendments to take effect instead of completely creating a new will or re-writing the original one.

Ask a lawyer for:

  • advice if the document doesn't meet your needs or cover what you want

  • advice if you want to have your will reviewed

  • advice if you share ownership of a property with someone who is not your spouse or civil partner

  • advice if you wish to make provision for a dependent who is unable to care for themselves, for example a trust 

  • advice if there are several family members who may make a claim on the will, for example, a second wife or children from a first marriage

  • advice if your permanent home is not in the United Kingdom

  • advice if you are resident here but you own or part-own overseas property

  • advice if you are involved in a business

This last will and testament is governed by the laws of Scotland.

Other names for Last will and testament for Scotland

Will, Scottish Will.

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