Can I appoint WVS to act as Executor?
Unfortunately, WVS do not have the appropriate resource to act as executor.
What is the process for gaining entry to a vacant property, disposing of personal household possessions, dealing with bank accounts and savings, utility companies and arranging the funeral?
There is no process for this, as it depends on the individual circumstances. For example, if no keys to the property are available, then a locksmith will be appointed to gain access. If keys are available, then they will be used to gain access initially before all locks are changed for security reasons. The contents of the property will be examined to identify and secure paperwork relating to the estate assets and liabilities. The executor will use this paperwork when contacting all asset holders to notify them of the death, and to seek closing balances/evaluations. The contents of the property will be inventoried. Specifically gifted items will be valued and made available for collection by their recipients. The removal, valuation and sale of jewellery, antiques and specialist items would be handled by specialist auctioneers. In the absence of specific instructions in the Will, sentimental items of no financial value are initially offered to relatives or friends as keepsakes. If this is not possible, then any non value items will be removed by a clearance company.
Funerals should be arranged by the executor in accordance with any wishes expressed by the deceased. This really should be entrusted with friends or family, but if this is not possible, then we strongly recommend that you consider a pre-paid funeral plan. Details of the funeral and plan should then be retained with your Will and copies kept in a readily accessible place to ensure they can be located quickly after your death. Where possible, it would be helpful to inform friends or family of your intentions and the chosen funeral director. We only advise this, as in the immediate aftermath of your death, the location of the Will is not the priority. The most important thing is your funeral wishes. If later this information was found after your Will and the wrong decisions made for your funeral, then this can cause embarrassment.
Will WVS consider allowing an estate to be put in a Trust allowing the estate to be ‘owned’ by WVS?
If a Trust is created, it is not owned by anyone. The appointed Trustees are legally responsible for safeguarding, managing and administering the trust property or assets in accordance with the with the terms of the Trust Deed or Will. Trustees must follow the terms of the Will or Trust Deeds, and also comply with the law and legal obligations flowing from it. The WVS is not capable of being a Trustee at this time. Managing the Trust will be the sole responsibility of the trustees and not the beneficiaries.
Will WVS consider ‘owning’ the estate but not actively managing it until the death of the occupier, therefore allowing the occupier the same freedoms to maintain and sell the property within the estate?
You will need to seek independent legal advice regarding the operation of the Trust you wish to establish. Only the Trustees are legally capable of conducting a sale. There should also be at least two trustees to affect a sale of land. If you have specific wishes surrounding these topics then you will need to be advised on their feasibility and the mechanisms to bring them into effect. Again, independent legal advice should be sought.
Do the different WVS Operations have their own Budgets (Restrictions)?
Yes, the WVS does have individual restricted operations, however, most of these projects arise at very short notice. It is much more beneficial for the charity to be able to use funds where they are most urgently needed. These are called Essential Funds. If a project no longer exists at time of death, the WVS has the right to use the donation where they think the need is most urgently required.
Will the money be ‘set aside’ or just form an integral part of a budget until it’s required?
It will be held in a separate specific account until the funds are required. These are called restricted accounts. If the funds are to purchase something specific, but the project no longer exists, the WVS has the right to use that donation where they think it is most needed.
I’m worried my family may try to contest my Will, even though I have not included them in my wishes. How can I stop this?
Unfortunately, you are unable to prevent anyone who thinks they have a claim on your estate from contesting your Will. A judge will usually vote in favour of a dependant to receive some sort of financial benefit. The only way you can try and prevent this, is including a letter of wishes with your Will. In the letter state why you are choosing to leave your estate to charity and remain positive, rather than negatively talk about why you do not want your family to benefit. This could come across as ‘bitter’ to the judge and he/she is more likely to vote in favour of the family.
I live in Scotland but I don’t want my family to benefit from my estate.
Unfortunately, Scottish law stipulates you must leave something to your direct NoK/s before charity. If you have no family at time of death, your estate will then be dispersed to the other beneficiaries in your Will.
I have property / assets overseas – how do I make sure this is included in my Will?
Regardless of what assets you have overseas, seeking independent legal advice is advised. You will require a Will written by a solicitor in the country where your assets are. For example, you will need a Spanish Will if you have property in Spain etc.
I want to avoid the cost of a Solicitor writing my Will, can I use a Will Writer?
WVS cannot influence you in who you choose to write your Will for you. However, Will Writers (and writing your own Will) is not governed nor protected by The Law Society and we strongly advise against using them. If a Will Writer made an error with your estate or was untruthful regarding dispersing your estate, there is nothing much that can be done, but taking them to court may cost family a great deal. If a Solicitor did the same, they would be struck off by The Law Society and any lost money will be recompensed.