When it comes to writing a UK will it is best to have one written specifically to cover the country in which you live within the UK (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) so that it takes into account the correct laws, processes, rules and procedures that apply. These differences can affect your entire approach when you write your own UK will.
The areas where there are inconsistencies across the UK countries are:
- Living Wills
- Power of Attorney
- Inheritance Law; and
A UK living will deals in advance (also known as advance directives in the UK) with matters of medical treatment should you be physically or mentally incapacitated such that you could not make your wishes known when it matters. A living will in the UK is legally covered under the Mental Capacity Act 2005; however, this act only covers England and Wales. In Northern Ireland a living will can be completed, however, it is not covered by specific legislation; instead it is covered by common law. In Scotland Welfare Powers of Attorney can be applied.
Power of Attorney-UK
A UK power of attorney deals with taking care of a person’s health, welfare and/or financial affairs. They are used when a person is unable to take care of such matters themselves. This can occur for many reasons among which could be declining health, long term hospital stay or being abroad for example. Some of the terms used across the UK are welfare, lasting, enduring, general and ordinary power of attorney. The terminology, laws and procedure differ across the countries within the UK. All UK power of attorney forms have to be registered with the appropriate government bodies before they can be acted upon.
The UK inheritance law is not consistent across the whole of the UK. England and Wales have the same inheritance laws; however, Scotland and Northern Ireland each have their own inheritance laws. One example is that if there is no will written or for any reason a will is revoked (see below) the rules for the division of the estate and property is different in each country within the UK.
A revoked will is a will that has been declared void. A will could be revoked, in full or in part if it is incorrectly written, proper procedure is not followed or if someone had grounds to contest a will in the UK. When it comes to successfully challenging a UK will there has to be sufficient grounds for contesting a will in the UK. For example, simply being unhappy with the will is not grounds for contesting. There needs to be something legally wrong with it and advice from a will disputes solicitors will identify this. Before spending money needlessly to contest a will it would make sense to view the division of the estate under the UK inheritance laws because irrespective of the outcome you may never be destined to inherit anything anyway.
The UK probate process takes place after a persons’ death and is the process of administering the estate. In the UK an executor of a will is the person or people nominated in a will and testament to deal with the administering process. The UK probate law is different for Scotland and Northern Ireland to that of England and Wales. Also Scottish terminology can be very different whereas the terminology in Northern Ireland resembles closely that used in England and Wales. The UK probate rules for the procedures and processes that have to be followed are also different for each.
In addition to the above differences across countries in the UK, there are also different ways to approach a Will and Testament. Will Writing Software-UK versions, Wills Online-UK versions and UK Will Kits can cover multiple UK countries and you tailor their use specifically to the country you require. A Last Will and Testament Template-UK version is going to be too general; for this reason it is safer to use a template specifically worded to suit the country required. Will writing solicitors specialize in creating a last will and testament for the country in which they are a registered law practice.