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Appointing beneficiaries to your Will
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Home / Making a Will / Creating your Will / Appointing beneficiaries to your Will

By making a will you have the opportunity to ensure that your “assets” (property, money or belongings that you own) are inherited by your chosen beneficiaries when you die.

As a general rule you can leave your assets and any interest you may have in an asset to who ever you wish. However, there are some exceptions to this. This article covers some of the types of beneficiaries who can and cannot benefit under a will.

A person who dies before you

Generally a bequest made to someone who dies before you will not take affect.

Attesting witnesses

A beneficiary named in a will or a codicil or the spouse or civil partner of a beneficiary should not witness the signing of the will or codicil. If they do any bequest made to them will generally not take affect. 

Unlawful killers

As a general rule a person who is proved guilty of the murder or manslaughter of a “testator” (the person who made the will) and is not found to have been insane at the time cannot benefit under the will. This rule is commonly known as the “forfeiture rule”.

The Court, however, has the power to modify the effect of the rule in the case of convictions for manslaughter.

Undue influence, force and fraud

If a testator is unduly influenced (coerced or pressured) or forced into making the will, a Court may set aside the will in its entirety or in part. Similarly, a Court may set aside a will or part of a will if the execution of a will was obtained by fraud or if it was forged after the person’s death.

Illegitimate children and children born as a result of fertilisation techniques

Illegitimate children have been entitled to inherit under wills made since 1 January 1970. In the case of wills made before that date an illegitimate child may not be able to inherit under the will.

Where a child is born as a result of artificial insemination or a similar technique the woman who is carrying or has carried the child is treated as the mother of the child. If the mother is married her husband will generally be treated as the father of the child.


Charities can inherit under a will.

Other organisations

Corporations and local authorities can inherit under a will. Limited companies can inherit under a will, although they can only inherit land if the articles of association of the company gives it the power to hold land. Generally institutions, societies, clubs and trade unions can inherit under a will.

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Single Will or Mirror Wills?

If you are a couple and wish to leave all your assets to each other then you could save money by making  Mirror Wills. You can also use Mirror Wills if you whish to leave your estate to the same beneficiaries. 
If you wish to leave different legacies, appoint different executors or you would like to specify individual funeral wishes then you will need to make two Single Wills.
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