A Testator is the person making a will. The first thing that a testator has to do is work out the value of the their estate - all their possessions including property and money that will be left once debt have been paid. You can then decide who will be your beneficiaries - the people or organisations that will receive a gift in your will. There are different ways in which you can leave a legacy - the most common are specific, pecuniary and residuary.
A specific legacy is a particular named item in your will such as a piece of jewellery, shares or a house. A pecuniary legacy is a specified amount of money left as a gift. But the value of a pecuniary legacy will decline because of inflation over time.
Once all of your specific and pecuniary legacies have been made to your beneficiaries the remainder of your estate is known as the residue. A residuary legacy is a proportion of what is left of your estate. For example you could leave 100% of the residue of your estate to your favourite charity or if you have two charities you support you could leave half of the residue to each of them. A residuary legacy is not subject to inflation - a 20% share is always a 20% share.
Leaving your residue to charity can also reduce your Inheritance Tax liability if the value of your estate goes above the tax threshold.
You will also need to decide on who your executors should be. Your executors ensure that all your wishes in your Will are carried out after your death. You can choose one or more people to act as your executors including your solicitors, bank or a beneficiary in your Will.
After your death your Will goes to probate. This is the legal term for the procedure that establishes that a Will and or codicil are valid. A codicil is a change or addition that must follow the same legal formalities of your original will. Once probate is completed your executors have the authority to carry out the terms of your will.
If you die intestate this means that you have died without a valid Will and that your estate will be subject to the rules of intestacy. It is always best to consult a solicitor when drawing up or changing a Will.