Your Guide to the Different Types of Wills

What types of Will are there in the UK?

It’s relatively straightforward and cheap to get a Will. But it’s important to know that there are several different types available depending on your circumstances.

Having the wrong type of Will could make things more difficult for your loved ones when you die, so it’s always best to have things in order, especially if you have children or a partner.

Choosing the best type of Will for you requires a bit of knowledge on the differences. So we’ve put together this handy guide to help you.

Standard Wills

1. Single Will

A single Will is a simple document which outlines how you’d like your wishes to be carried out after you die. It is also the most common type of Will.

You might consider a single Will if you’re not in a relationship. But they can also be used if you have different wishes to your partner or spouse, or if one person in the relationship already has a Will.

With a single Will, you’ll be able to name the people or charities you’d like to benefit from your estate (including property, savings and other belongings), who you’d like to look after your children and who you would want to protect their inheritance (if they’re under 18).

2. Mirror Will

If you and your significant other share the same wishes, making mirror Wills could be a more cost-effective option for you.

As the name suggests, these documents will ‘mirror’ each other – saving you the time and expense of writing up two single Wills.

In most cases, mirror Wills will dictate that when one person dies, the entire estate will go to the surviving partner. This means there will be no inheritance tax to pay on the transfer of assets.

But it’s worth noting that mirror Wills can be altered by either partner at any point, meaning your partner could change who they’d like to benefit from your estate after you die.

If you have children from a previous relationship, you’ll need to think about whether you can trust your partner to stick to the wishes set out in your original mirror Wills. If not, your loved ones could miss out.

Trust Wills

Sometimes it will make more sense for your assets to go into a trust after you die, rather than directly to your chosen beneficiaries. This will provide a greater level of protection if your intended beneficiaries go through a change in circumstances (such as divorce or bankruptcy).

When you set up a trust as part of your Will, you’ll assign a trustee who will manage the assets and funds within the trust on behalf of your beneficiaries.

Trust Wills can also help with effective inheritance tax planning. But it’s important that you select the one that’s best for your individual situation.

1. Discretionary trust Will

A discretionary trust Will gives the trustee the discretion to decide who benefits from the estate, and how and when they will benefit.

You can use a discretionary trust Will for all or part of your Will. And your choice of trustee will manage the trust for you after you die.

This type of trust gives more responsibility to the trustee, and allows them to choose who will need the assets the most. Because of this, the trustee will need to be someone you trust to follow your wishes and make the best decisions for your beneficiaries.

2. Property trust Will

Property under your name or a shared name can be protected by a property trust Will.

This will allow you to prevent the value of your share of the property from decreasing, as it will ensure that the property – or at least your share of it – is looked after properly.

Your chosen trustee will manage your property trust, but you can give the right for someone (usually your partner or spouse) to benefit from the trust during their lifetime.

This will usually mean the benefit of being able to reside in the property after your death. Your other beneficiaries (including children), will usually receive their share when your partner or spouse has died.

Making a property trust Will could also help to protect your estate from care home fees.

For instance, if you pass away before your partner or spouse, they would only be evaluated for care home costs based on their share of the property (excluding what you have in a property trust).

3. Life interest trust Will

A life interest trust Will is similar to a property trust. But rather than just putting your property (or your share of it) in a trust, you’ll be able to put the whole or part of your estate into it, too.

4. Flexible trust Wills

This is an extension of the life interest trust Will but it will give you additional flexibility if your circumstances are more complicated. You may have children from a previous marriage who you’d like to benefit from your estate, for example.

Flexible trust Wills differ from life interest trust Wills as your chosen trustee will have the power to rearrange assets during the surviving partner or spouse’s lifetime.

Living Wills

A living Will – also known as an advance decision – won’t affect how your estate is distributed after you die. Instead, it will allow you to set out the medical treatment you’d like to receive in the event that you’re unable to communicate with doctors yourself.

Living Wills are most commonly used when people fear they may not be able to express their wishes later on due to a degenerative illness such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.

You cannot use a living Will to request specific treatments, nor can you use it to make a request to end your life. But you will be able to outline your decisions around life-sustaining care, such as resuscitation and the use of ventilators.

It can be difficult to think about these things. But setting out your wishes early will make things easier for your loved ones in the future, as they won’t have the pressure of making decisions about your care on your behalf.

What type of Will do I need?

Choosing the best type of Will for you can feel overwhelming. Everyone’s situation is different, so there is no one size fits all approach. But working with an experienced Wills solicitor can help to ease the process.

Your solicitor will talk to you about your circumstances and use their expertise to guide you in the right direction.

To find out more about how we could put you in touch with skilled Wills and probate solicitors, start your enquiry online today.

We’re here to help.

Note: First4Lawyers offers this information as guidance, not advice. Before taking any action, you should seek professional assistance tailored to your personal circumstances.

Get in touch today to discuss your requirements 08005677866

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