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Wills FAQ

Preparing a will can be a complex process depending on your particular requirements. There are many different types of wills, and it’s important you create one that meets your needs. On this page you’ll find some of the most frequently asked questions we get from our clients.

1. What are the different types of wills?

Standard/simple will This includes the appointment of executors, the gifting of the whole estate after payment of debts, taxes and funeral expenses, to a group or individuals within a substitute group. It also includes directions concerning funeral arrangements.
Tailored will A tailored will is the same as a standard will, but with provisions for the appointment of guardians and trustees. You can declare specific gifts to individuals, provisions for children or grandchildren to inherit unequally and set up of a trust.
Complex will A complex will is the same as a standard will set out in the tailored will, however, it can include life provisions in the family home, step-children/children to inherit in disproportionate percentages, Inheritance Tax mitigation and several individual gifts of items, property or money. It will also include instances where an individual, like a long-term partner or child, is excluded from a will or complex family structures.
Mirror will/joint will A mirror will or joint will is one where the content of the two wills is the same, except for the name of the testator. Mirror wills are designed for married or co-habiting partners who need identical wills.

2. How long does it take to prepare my will?

From start to finish, it will take up to ten working days. This will depend on when instructions are received and your availability to attend our offices for the purpose of signing and witnessing the will.

3. How much does it cost?

Our prices vary according to the complexity of your will. Our fees include an initial 30 minute or one hour face-to-face or telephone consultation.

4. What information do you require?

We have prepared a questionnaire to assist in gathering as much information as possible to ensure that all aspects of your estate are covered and that your will is relevant to your personal circumstances.

5. What is a guardian/testamentary guardian?

A guardian, or testamentary guardian, is a person, or people, appointed by you in your will to care for your child. This person, or people, have the same rights and responsibilities as a natural parent for your child in the event of your death. Any parent, or guardian, may appoint a guardian for a child who is under the age of 18.

6. What is an executor?

An executor is a person or institution appointed by a testator to carry out the terms of their will.

7. What is a beneficiary?

A beneficiary is an individual, institution, trustee, or estate which receives, or may become eligible to receive, benefits under a will, insurance policy, retirement plan, annuity, trust or other contract.

8. What is a trustee?

A trustee is a person who is appointed to administer the affairs of a trust.

9. Do you offer a storage facility?

The original will is needed in order to get probate. The Probate Registry will accept a copy in certain circumstances. It is therefore very important that the original will is kept in a safe and secure place.

We recommend to all our clients that they register their will with certainty so that their family members can easily find out where the original and most recent will is stored.

We can offer our international clients a secure facility in which to store their will and other documents. This ensures that their documents are held securely and centrally, allowing them to be located and accessed by your executors only after your death.

Our clients can also choose to have their original will stored at the Principal Probate Registry in London.

10. How often should I change my will?

Your life does not stay static and neither should your will. You should aim to review your will every three to four years. As a valued Sable International customer, we will automatically contact you every few years to confirm that the contents of your will still reflect your wishes.

Case Studies

Marley v Rawlings [2014] UKSC 2


In January 2014, the Court of Appeal ruled that the purported mirror wills made by Mr and Mrs Rawlings were to be executed as per their wishes. The court case began in 2006 when it was established that both Mr and Mrs Rawlings had signed the incorrect will, they had signed each other’s will, leaving both wills invalid. The mirror wills had sought to exclude the Rawlings’ own two sons and to benefit Mr Marley, who they treated as their adopted son. Mrs Rawlings died in 2003, but it was only after Mr Rawlings died in 2006 that the mistake was noticed. The Rawlings’ two sons contested the wills and the estate was locked up in a legal battle for eight years. The ruling has now allowed justice to prevail; the testator’s wishes can be followed. However, given that the mistake was only identified in 2006, after the death of the second spouse, and the Supreme Court ruled in 2014, this case shows the importance of following formalities to ensure that your will is valid.

The Estate of Wayland [1951] 2 All ER 1041


In 1947, a British man living in Belgium made a will in which he stated that he only wanted this will to cover his Belgium assets. In 1949, he made another will in the UK and this will used a “standard clause” which states, “I revoke all previous wills”. However, the 1949 will also specifies that it is only intended to deal with the UK assets.

So, rather than having two separate wills - one for Belgium assets made in 1947 and one for UK assets made in 1949 - when he died, he only had one will in operation, namely the UK one. It was pretty obvious that he had not intended to revoke his Belgian will, as his UK will clearly states that the will was only intended to cover his UK assets, but the use of the standard clause resulted in a lengthy dispute that could have been avoided through better wording.

In the end, it was held that the testator had no intention of revoking his previous Belgian will, the revocation clause was only to revoke his previous English will and justice won out.

We deal with foreign wills all the time and our consultants will make sure that your revocation clause is worded properly, so that you don’t end up revoking a former will by mistake.

Intestacy rules flowchart

If you die without a will, or if the homemade will you have prepared is rejected, then you are considered to have died intestate. As such, your assets are subject to division by the Crown in accordance with the Administration of Estates Act 1925. Though the state has tried to make this as fair as possible, distribution under intestacy rules can create a less than desirable result.

Intestacy rules flowchart

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Sable International is a trading name of 1st Contact Money Limited (company number 07070528), registered in England and Wales. We are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (FCA no. 517570), the Financial Services Conduct Authority in South Africa (1st Contact Money [PTY] Ltd - FSP no. 41900) and hold an Australian Financial Services Licence issued by ASIC to deal in foreign exchange (1st Contact Group - AFS Licence number 335 126).

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