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Help and guides

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About Onewill
Who we are

We’re a diverse team of designers, engineers and legal experts committed to making the complicated world of death and dying accessible and meaningful.

Why we do it

We believe that the single worst way of preparing for death is not thinking about it. We’ve made it our mission to help people handle death, not just the legals, but the friends, the relationships and the legacies we leave behind.

Why we aim for 100% customer satisfaction

Writing wills and thinking about death is tough enough without great customer service. We are dedicated to helping everyone who uses Farewill to understand the process behind making a will, and get the most out of doing it. We have an extensive help centre to guide you through the process, and live chat if you’d like more information from our wills specialists.

How does Farewill work?

We guide you step-by-step through a series of questions so we can create your personalised will. You can complete your will for free and decide to purchase when you are done.

How are our wills written?

We work with expert legal advisors to make sure we use the latest in legal precedents in all of our wills.

Based on the information you enter on the site, we personalise your will to you and draft it with the same structure and content lawyers use.

How long does it take?

Most people finish in 10 – 15 minutes – though we recommend taking your time to fully understand everything. If you need more time, pause and come back, your information will still be there.

What information do I need before I start?

You’ll need the names of the people who you’d like to inherit as well as an idea of any specific gifts you’d like to leave. Adding basic details like the name of your bank, or pension provider can make it easier to deal with your estate.

Making a will
Do I need a solicitor?

Using a solicitor to make a will isn’t necessary in most cases. The correct wording and signing of the will are what’s needed to make it legal.

We work with expert legal advisors to make sure we use the latest in legal precedents in all of our wills.

Based on the information you enter on the site, we personalise your will to you and draft it with the same structure and content lawyers use.

How do you store a will?

You can store a will in your own home, or pay for a will storage service. If you keep it at home, put it somewhere safe where you keep your other important documents and make sure you tell your executors where it is. The Money Advice Service websitehas more information on various other options.

What is a guardian?

A guardian is an adult you nominate to take care of your child in case you pass away before they’re 18.

A pet guardian takes care of your pet if they’re still alive when you die.

How does Farewill work?

We guide you step-by-step through a series of questions so we can create your personalised will. You can complete your will for free and decide to purchase when you are done.

What is a witness?

To make your will legally binding, two people have to watch you sign it. They are your witnesses. A witness can be a friend or acquaintance, but in some cases we recommend asking a medical practitioner. Your witnesses must be:

  • over the age of 18
  • not a beneficiary of your will or someone married to a beneficiary

After watching you sign your will, your witnesses will need to add their details and signatures. Your Farewill will includes clear guidance on how to do this.

Guardians
What is a guardian?

A guardian is an adult you nominate to take care of your child in case both parents, or anyone else with parental responsibility, have passed away before your child is 18.

A pet guardian is an adult you nominate to take care of your pet if they’re still alive when you die.

How many guardians should I choose for my children?

It’s advisable to choose one guardian to look after your children, or two if they’re a couple. If your children live together now, you should choose the same guardians for all of them so you don’t accidentally split them up.

Is my partner automatically a guardian?

If your partner has parental responsibility then they can automatically carry on taking care of your child. Any guardians you appoint will only act if your partner has also passed away.

If your partner does not have parental responsibility and you’d like them to carry on caring for your child it’s important to appoint them as a guardian.

All mothers have parental responsibility, as do fathers who are married to the mother at the time of birth or listed on the child’s birth certificate.

Partners of the same sex both have parental responsibility if they are civil partners at the time of fertility treatment or donor insemination.

If you’d like more information on who has parental responsibility from GOV.UK click here.

Things to consider when choosing guardians

Choosing guardians is never easy, but certain things should be considered to help you make the best choice:

  • their values – whether religious, cultural or spiritual – if you’d like your child to be raised in a particular way, it’s important that your nominated guardian shares these values
  • responsibility – how capably they can care and provide for your child
  • familiarity – whether your child knows (and likes them) already
  • location – do they live nearby? If not your child may be removed from any of your other friends of family who they know already
  • other children – does your guardian have other children? Would that cause any problems or would it be a positive?

Above all else, when you decide on someone you’d like to do the job, make sure you discuss it with them and that they feel comfortable with it.

Gifts
What is a specific gift?

A specific gift is a particular possession or amount of money that you’d like to leave someone in your will. For example, sentimental things like jewellery or photo albums, or valuable gifts like a car or £5,000.

It’s important that specific gifts are described precisely so that it’s clear for your executors and avoids any disputes.

Do I have to leave specific gifts?

You don’t have to leave specific gifts, though it’s your only chance to leave something special to a close friend or loved one, or to remember a charity that’s important to you.

Leaving specific gifts to children

Gifts to a child under 18 will be held by your executors until they reach adulthood. Your executor can choose to transfer the gift to the child’s parent or guardian for safekeeping at their discretion.

What happens to the specific gifts in my will?

Your executors are in charge of finding the specific gifts in your will and distributing them according to your wishes.

What happens if my specific gift fails?

Specific gifts generally fail if the beneficiary has died, or sometimes if the description is imprecise. If a gift fails, it returns to your residuary estate, to be divided between your residuary beneficiaries.

A gift will also fail if you no longer own it when you die e.g. if you’ve sold it or given it away.

Leaving gifts of money

Gifts of money, known technically as ‘pecuniary legacies’ can be left to a person or to a charity.

All gifts of money are given free of inheritance tax on Farewill, which makes sure your beneficiaries get the exact amount you specify. If inheritance tax is owed on your estate, tax on the gifts you leave will be paid out of your residuary estate. Learn more about inheritance tax here.

Gifts of money can only be given to one person or charity at a time. To leave gifts to more than one person or charity, add each gift individually.

Residuary estate
What is my residuary estate?

Your residuary estate is everything you own after any debts, bills and taxes have been paid and after the specific gifts you include in your will have been distributed.

What’s included in my residuary estate?

Your residuary estate includes all of your bank accounts, ISAs, properties, stocks, shares, money and possessions you haven’t left as specific gifts. You can add financial assets here.

The exceptions to this are:

  • jointly owned bank accounts or properties – where it automatically goes to the other owner when you die
  • pensions or life insurance policies written in trust – which go directly to the person you nominate when you take out these policies.
Choosing residuary beneficiaries

In the UK, there is full “testamentary freedom” – meaning that there are no set rules about who you have to include in your residuary estate. That said, there are some people who can make a claim against your estate on the grounds that your will fails to make reasonable financial provision for them. It’s important to be aware of this if you are intentionally excluding a partner, child or somebody else who depends on you financially.

People who can reasonably claim against your estate include an ex wife, husband or civil partner who has yet to remarry, somebody who has lived with you as a partner for the two years preceding your death (regardless of if you were legally partnered), or a step-child who has been treated as your own child.

Most married couples, civil partners and long-term partners choose to leave the bulk of their residuary estate to their partner. Parents without a long-term partner often leave their estate to their children. Many people also choose to include friends, neighbours or other family members.

Approximately 1 in 3 people choose to leave a gift to a charity that they feel strongly about. This has an enormous impact on charities in the UK, accounting for 25% of all voluntary charitable contributions.

Including children as residuary beneficiaries

Residuary gifts to a child under 18 will be held by your executors until they reach adulthood. Your executors can choose to transfer the gift to the child’s parent or guardian for safekeeping at their discretion, or to directly use it for the child’s benefit before they reach 18.

Including a charity in your residuary estate

You can choose to leave a percentage of your residuary estate to one or more charities you feel strongly about. Leaving 10% or more of your taxable estate to charity even reduces your inheritance tax bill.

What happens if my residuary beneficiaries die before me?

For every residuary beneficiary you appoint, we ask who should inherit their share of your estate if they pass before you (these are known as secondary beneficiaries). You can choose to leave their share to their children, other people or charities.

If all of your primary and secondary beneficiaries die before you, your estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy.

Will I need to pay inheritance tax?

Residuary estate

  • What’s included in my residuary estate?

    Your residuary estate includes all of your bank accounts, ISAs, properties, stocks, shares, money and possessions you haven’t left as specific gifts. You can add financial assets here.

    The exceptions to this are:

    • jointly owned bank accounts or properties – where it automatically goes to the other owner when you die
    • pensions or life insurance policies written in trust – which go directly to the person you nominate when you take out these policies.
  • Choosing residuary beneficiaries

    In the UK, there is full “testamentary freedom” – meaning that there are no set rules about who you have to include in your residuary estate. That said, there are some people who can make a claim against your estate on the grounds that your will fails to make reasonable financial provision for them. It’s important to be aware of this if you are intentionally excluding a partner, child or somebody else who depends on you financially.

    People who can reasonably claim against your estate include an ex wife, husband or civil partner who has yet to remarry, somebody who has lived with you as a partner for the two years preceding your death (regardless of if you were legally partnered), or a step-child who has been treated as your own child.

    Most married couples, civil partners and long-term partners choose to leave the bulk of their residuary estate to their partner. Parents without a long-term partner often leave their estate to their children. Many people also choose to include friends, neighbours or other family members.

    Approximately 1 in 3 people choose to leave a gift to a charity that they feel strongly about. This has an enormous impact on charities in the UK, accounting for 25% of all voluntary charitable contributions.

  • Including children as residuary beneficiaries

    Residuary gifts to a child under 18 will be held by your executors until they reach adulthood. Your executors can choose to transfer the gift to the child’s parent or guardian for safekeeping at their discretion, or to directly use it for the child’s benefit before they reach 18.

  • Including a charity in your residuary estate

    You can choose to leave a percentage of your residuary estate to one or more charities you feel strongly about. Leaving 10% or more of your taxable estate to charity even reduces your inheritance tax bill.

  • What happens if my residuary beneficiaries die before me?

    For every residuary beneficiary you appoint, we ask who should inherit their share of your estate if they pass before you (these are known as secondary beneficiaries). You can choose to leave their share to their children, other people or charities.

    If all of your primary and secondary beneficiaries die before you, your estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy.

Executors
What is an executor?

Executors are responsible for carrying out the terms of your will after you die.

Generally, this involves sorting out your finances, making sure debts and taxes are paid, and ensuring what remains is properly distributed according to your will. This process is often called “administering your estate”.

You can choose professional executors, friends and family, or a combination of both to do this role. On average a professionally administered estate is distributed within a year.

Our professional executor service is called Farewill Trustees. Farewill Trustees is separate to the wills side of what we do, but part of the same group of companies, and founded on the same principles of using technology to offer a different, more modern and transparent approach.

You can nominate Farewill Trustees as your executor in the Executor section.

How many executors do I need to appoint?

Technically you only need to appoint one executor. Legally however, lone executors have restricted powers to deal with the property in your estate and are unable to sell it without appointing an additional executor. For this reason, we recommend appointing at least two executors.

Choosing your executors

It’s important to choose people you trust as your executors as they need to carry out the wishes in your will and find solutions to any problems that may arise.

It’s a good idea to think carefully before choosing your partner as your executor. They’ll be dealing with your death and might find the paperwork an unwelcome burden. Common choices are children, siblings or close friends.

Can an executor also be a beneficiary?

Any of your beneficiaries can also act as your executor, as long as they’re over 18 years old.

What powers do executors have?

Executors are given some powers by law, but it is usual to include in your will additional powers and provisions.

At Farewill we include a set of general provisions, that have been professionally drafted and approved by STEP, and are used widely by other professional will writers and solicitors. STEP is the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, a global professional association that promotes high professional standards in this area of law.

You can read more in the STEP provisions section.

How do I nominate Farewill Trustees to be an executor?

You can nominate Farewill Trustees as your executor in the Executor section.

STEP provisions
What are STEP provisions?

Your will contains provisions relating to the responsibilities of your executors and trustees. These provisions are under the heading General Provisions.

Your executors make sure your estate is distributed according to your will. Your trustees look after any gifts that may not be delivered immediately because they are held in trust, for example for someone under 18.

Executors and trustees are given some powers by law, but it is usual to include in your will additional powers and provisions. It’s usual because the laws are quite limited, and don’t always allow executors and trustees to do the things we would expect them to do, or be able to do.

At Farewill we include a set of general provisions, that have been professionally drafted and approved by STEP, and are used widely by other professional will writers and solicitors. STEP is the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, a global professional association that promotes high professional standards in this area of law.

The next section outline some of the most important STEP provisions for you, but you should familiarise yourself with them all. You can read them online here.

How many executors do I need to appoint?

Technically you only need to appoint one executor. Legally however, lone executors have restricted powers to deal with the property in your estate and are unable to sell it without appointing an additional executor. For this reason, we recommend appointing at least two executors.

Beneficiaries under 18

The STEP provisions give your executors and trustees more choice over how they manage gifts you leave to children.

For smaller gifts it can be sensible to pay the money (or entrust an item) to the child’s parent or guardian, and let them look after it, rather than your executor become a long-term trustee. If the child is 16, they may be mature enough to receive the gift themselves. If the gift is larger, then making payments to the child’s parent or guardian whilst the child is under 18, or to a mature 16 year old, may be appropriate too.

The STEP provisions make such flexibility possible. And, whilst the executors and trustees must always put the child’s interests first, they can make payments without having to ask what the money will be used for, unless there is reason to be suspicious.

Putting your beneficiaries first

Your beneficiaries must always come first. Executors and trustees would be breaking the law if they put their own interests before those of your beneficiaries. Sometimes, laws that try to protect the independence of executors and trustees, get in the way of what all the beneficiaries want.

An example is around property. Usually an executor or trustee cannot buy property belonging to the estate or trust. The STEP provisions relax these rules, to allow executors and trustees (who may also be beneficiaries) to buy such property, imposing instead certain safeguards to comply with when such sales happen.

When executors and trustees make mistakes

If you have appointed family or friends as your executors and trustees they may not be used to administering estates, and may make mistakes that a professional executor or trustee would not, or should not. A professional executor or trustee is someone, or a company (like Farewill Trustees), who charges a fee for administering estates or looking after trusts.

Generally, if an executor or trustee does something which means the beneficiaries lose out, they are financially responsible for making good that loss, even if that means paying the beneficiaries out of their own pocket. But, it is generally accepted that it’s unfair to hold friends and family to the same standards as professionals. So, under the STEP provisions they’re not.

To be held responsible for a loss, family and friends acting as your executor or trustee must have either been fraudulent or dishonest. Fraud is committed when someone tricks somebody else to make a gain. Dishonesty covers acts like lying, cheating or stealing.

Professionals are held financially responsible for fraud and dishonesty too, but they are also held responsible negligence and carelessness. Negligence is committed when someone doesn’t take the care required of them by law (for example meeting common professional standards) and that lack of care causes harm or financial loss. Carelessness is very similar to negligence.

You can nominate Farewill Trustees as your executor in the Executor section.

Beneficiaries under 18

The STEP provisions give your executors and trustees more choice over how they manage gifts you leave to children.

For smaller gifts it can be sensible to pay the money (or entrust an item) to the child’s parent or guardian, and let them look after it, rather than your executor become a long-term trustee. If the child is 16, they may be mature enough to receive the gift themselves. If the gift is larger, then making payments to the child’s parent or guardian whilst the child is under 18, or to a mature 16 year old, may be appropriate too.

The STEP provisions make such flexibility possible. And, whilst the executors and trustees must always put the child’s interests first, they can make payments without having to ask what the money will be used for, unless there is reason to be suspicious.

Funeral
Funeral Why should I include my funeral wishes in my will?

Including your wishes means you’ll get the kind of funeral you want. For your loved ones, knowing your wishes means they don’t have to make difficult decisions on your behalf.

What sort of wishes should I include?

Personal wishes can help to make your funeral a celebration of your life, rather than a purely sombre affair. Here are a few ideas of what to include:

  • anything you’d like to be read out, or who you’d like to speak
  • where you’d like to be buried or cremated
  • if you’d a spiritual or religious funeral
  • what kind of music and flowers you’d like at your funeral
  • who you’d like to invite (or not invite…)
  • whether you want it cheap and cheerful, or luxurious!
  • who you’d like to be responsible for arranging your funeral
Are my funeral wishes legally binding?

Unlike the rest of your will, your funeral wishes are not legally binding. From a legal perspective ‘there is no property in a dead body’, meaning that your wishes can’t be legally formalized.

Legal technicalities aside, most families are very grateful for funeral wishes and do their best to carry them out.

Who pays for my funeral?

Your funeral is paid for out of your residuary estate. This means that you don’t accidentally burden your loved ones with the cost when you pass away.

Property
What happens with my property when I die?

Any property that you own as tenants in common or as a sole proprietor are included in your residuary estate (read the section on types of property ownership for more information).

In our wills we don’t offer the option to leave property as a specific gift as there can be additional consequences which are complex and require specialist advice.

What happens with my mortgage when I die?

Unfortunately when you die your mortgage doesn’t go with you. Anyone inheriting a property with a mortgage automatically inherits the debt as well.

If your beneficiaries would like to take on the mortage themselves, they’ll have to run through a mortgage assessment to check they can afford to take on the payments.

If a new mortgage application can’t be approved, or if your beneficiaries don’t want to keep up the payments, then the property can be sold and proceeds can be used to repay the debt.

What happens to my joint mortgage when I die?

If you have a joint mortgage, often with a partner, then when they pass away you are not automatically entitled to take on the mortgage and property as the sole owner.

You’ll need to apply for, and be able to keep up the payments by yourself, which can sometimes be difficult if both partners earned a salary. If you are unable to get a new mortgage you may have to sell your property.

Types of property ownership

How you own your property affects what you’re allowed to do with it in your will.

If you are the sole owner, then you own the whole property and you can leave it in your will to whoever you like.

As tenants in common you own a percentage of the property and can pass on your ownership of that share in your will.

As joint tenants however, you have equal rights to the whole property, but it automatically goes to the other joint tenants when you die – meaning you have no control over it in your will.

You can find out how you own your property on the Land Registry’s website for a small fee. If you’d like to change the way you own your property follow the instructions on GOV.UK’s website.

Inheritance tax
Inheritance tax rates and thresholds

Each individual has a personal tax allowance know as the ‘nil rate band’. If the total value of your estate is under the nil rate band, you will not owe any inheritance tax.

For the 2016/17 tax year, the nil rate band is £325,000. If your estate is worth more than £325,000, 40% inheritance tax will be due on everything over the nil rate band.

For example, if you are single and leave behind an estate worth £500,000, you are £175,000 over the nil rate band and will owe 40% of this amount – £70,000 – in inheritance tax.

Inheritance tax for civil partners and married couples

If you’re married or in a civil partnership, anything that you leave your partner is tax-free, regardless of the size of your estate. Married couples and civil partners are also able to pass on their unused tax allowance to their partner, effectively increasing the surviving partner’s tax allowance.

For example, if a wife dies leaving her whole estate to her husband, no inheritance tax is due as it passed between married partners. At the same time, as none of the wife’s tax allowance was used, the husband’s tax allowance is increased from £325,000 to £650,000.

Inheritance tax and your home - main residence allowance

From April 2017, an additional tax allowance is being introduced by the government – on top of the nil rate band. This only applies to homeowners leaving their house or flat to children or grandchildren, and gives an additional £100,000 of tax allowance (rising to £175,000 by 2021). This allowance, like the nil rate band, is also transferable between married couples and civil partners.

For example, by 2021 a single person leaving an estate to their children, which includes their main residence, will only be subject to tax on the value of their state exceeding £500,000 (their nil rate band – £325,000 – added to their transferable main residence allowance – £175,000). If their estate was worth £600,000, 40% tax would be owed only on the £100,000 exceeding their £500,000 threshold.

Similarly, if a husband dies in 2021, leaving his estate to his wife, when his wife then passes away she will have a taxable threshold of up to £1M – the sum of her and her husband’s two nil rate bands and transferable main residence allowance – £325,000 + £325,000 + £175,000 + £175,000 = £1M.

Gifts made during your lifetime

You can potentially reduce your inheritance tax bill by giving gifts while you’re still alive.

Any gifts of valuable possessions or money given 7 years before you die are exempt from inheritance tax. If you die within 7 years, a sliding scale of inheritance tax will apply (if your estate is over the nil rate band). If any tax is due on gifts given during your lifetime, it is payable by the beneficiaries of those gifts, rather than your estate.

For more information on lifetime gifts, click here.

Reducing inheritance tax by giving to charity

Just like gifts to married or civil partners, anything you leave to a charity is deducted from the value of your estate. For instance, if you died leaving an estate worth £350,000 including a charitable gift of £30,000, you would not need to pay any inheritance tax. Your estate would be calculated as being worth £320,000 (£350,000 – £30,000), and therefore below the nil rate band.

On top of this, if you leave 10% of your ‘net’ estate to charity, the inheritance tax rate will be reduced from 40% to 36%.

For example, if you are unmarried, do not have a property and leave an estate worth £525,000 to your two children, your net estate is worth £200,000 (£525,000 minus your nil rate band of £325,000). At the normal inheritance tax rate of 40%, you will owe £80,000 in tax, leaving your children to inherit £445,000 in total.

However, if you include a charitable gift of £20,000 (10% of your £200,000 net estate), leaving the remaining £505,000 to your children, then the inheritance tax rate is reduced to 36%. Now you will only owe inheritance tax on £180,000 (£505,000 minus your nil rate band) and at the reduced rate of 36% – resulting in a tax bill of £64,800.

The result is that your children receive £440,200 (£4,200 less than before), the charity receives £20,000 and you save £15,200 on inheritance tax. So while this does mean that your beneficiaries receive less, if there are charitable causes you feel strongly about, this is a very efficient way of giving to them.

Inheritance tax on pensions and life insurance

In general, pensions and life insurance policies can be good ways of minimizing your tax bill. With either of these, make sure your policies are written ‘in trust’.

This means that any payouts will not form part of your estate, but will go straight to your beneficiaries without needing to pay inheritance tax.

Payments
When is the subscription money taken from my account?

The subscription is taken a year after you first bought your will. You can find the exact details in your subscription receipt which will be sent upon payment confirmation to your email address specified in the account creation.

How can I cancel my subscription?

Your subscription can be cancelled anytime by visiting this link. Our users often need to change their wills due to ever-changing circumstances in their lives so we advise holding onto the subscription in case.

Security
What security measures does Farewill employ?

For more information see our dedicated security page.

How do a report a potential security issue with the site?

Head over to our reporting page.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for feel free to ask us a question on chat.