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Legacy FAQs

Here are the answers to some of the questions commonly asked by people who are planning to write their will:

Q. Why make a will?

A.In a will you can make sure that your family and friends are adequately provided for. It also ensures that your assets are distributed in the way that you want them to be, making sure that your wishes are carried out.

Q. What could happen if I don’t make a will?

A.If you die intestate, (that is without making a will), the law decides how your estate is distributed and the people you care about may not receive anything. Legal problems may arise which can be time consuming and expensive, with all legal costs being made against the estate. By making a will you can save a lot of distress and anxiety for those you love and care for.

If you live outside of the UK, your solicitor will also advise on any special rules that apply in your country.

Q. Do I need to make a will if I have no one to leave my possessions to?

A.Even if you have no family of your own, making a will is still very important because if you die without one your whole estate will automatically go to the government to spend as they wish. Drawing up a will ensures that your money is only passed on to people or causes you care about.

Q. When should I make a will?

A.The sooner the better. It is particularly important at key points in your life. For example, when you marry, buy property, have children or plan long-term travel.

Q. Should I use a solicitor when writing my will?

A.Yes. The knowledge a solicitor has will make sure that your wishes are fulfilled and that the document is legal and correct. A will form can be bought from some stationers but one simple mistake could prevent your wishes from being carried out e.g. there are rules governing the way a will should be witnessed and if done incorrectly the whole document can be invalid. For example, a beneficiary cannot be a witness.

In the long run, using a solicitor is cheaper than the legal costs of sorting out your estate if you don’t make a will or if it is invalid.

If you don’t know a solicitor ask someone you trust to recommend one.

Q. What does it cost to make a will?

A.Fees for straightforward wills are not high and most solicitors can give you an estimate over the telephone.

Q. What are the first steps to be taken when making a will?

A.Before meeting your solicitor it is worth preparing a list of all your assets and liabilities to find out the value of your estate because this will save you time and money. The checklist below will help you to do this (any items of particular personal and sentimental value that you may wish to leave to specific people, should be listed separately).

By subtracting your liabilities from your assets you can estimate the value of your estate and once you know what you have to leave, you can decide how you wish to distribute it.

It is worth noting that your estate may be liable to inheritance tax, although the whole or any part of your estate left to your spouse is exempt from tax, provided she/he is living within the UK. The inheritance tax threshold and rate does change from time to time, but your solicitor will be able to advise you on this.

You will also need to appoint one or two executors to make sure that the terms of your will are carried out. An executor can be a beneficiary of your will but must be over the age of 18. The executor will have legal duties to manage, so you should ask the person you have in mind if they are willing to act on your behalf.

ASSETS (current value)








 Car, bicycle etc




 Bank/Building Society accounts




 Stocks & shares


 Credit card debits


 Insurance policies


 Hire purchase arrangements


 Pension benefits


 Unpaid bills


 Personal possessions


 Other liabilities


 Other items of value









Q. What about my funeral costs?

A.These expenses will be paid from your estate and your solicitor can advise you on the likely cost. Any wishes you have concerning your funeral arrangements may be stated in your will.

Q. Can I change my will?

A.You can change your will as often as you wish but this should always be done through your solicitor.

For small changes a ‘codicil’ can be added to your will. This is a separate legal document that must be signed and witnessed in the correct legal manner. In some instances it may be necessary to complete an entirely new will, e.g. if you marry or become divorced. If you are in doubt about whether a particular change in your family or personal circumstances necessitates a change to your will, please speak to your solicitor.

Q. Where should I keep my will once it’s made?

A.Keep it safe and tell your executor where it is. Many people leave their will with their solicitor but keep a copy themselves.

Useful terms

Some of the terms you will hear from your solicitor may be unfamiliar and you may find the definitions below helpful:

Intestate- Die without having made a will

A bequest- The promise of a gift in the event of your death

A residuary legacy- Percentage or share of your estate

A pecuniary legacy- A cash sum

A specific legacy- Item specified by you

Codicil- Legal document to make small changes to your will

We appreciate that this is a very personal decision and leave it up to you to decide whether to let us know whether you have included the BUAV in your will. Naturally, any information you provide us with will be treated with the strictest confidence and puts you under no obligation.

The easiest way to set up a legacy with the BUAV is to get in touch with our Legacy Officer, Angela Bunting on 0300 003 0577 (calls charged at local rate) or email (Monday - Thursday inclusive).

Should you have a legacy enquiry outside of these times please contact Julian Littaur, Deputy CEO and Finance Director, on 020 7619 6987 or