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Guide to Writing a Will

The purpose of this Guide is to assist you in giving clear instructions in connection with the preparation of your Will.  We suggest you consider the following in advance of your visit to our office:

  • Please bring any previous Will made by you, or details of where it is held
  • Please be able to give details of the approximate overall value of your estate and how it is made up.
  • Please make a note of full names and addresses of family members and beneficiaries,  and of your proposed Executors and Guardians.
  • Please consider whether you wish to make bequests of specific items or specified sums of money  to people or charities.
  • Please consider whom you would wish to inherit the residue or remainder of your estate after debts and specific or monetary bequests have been paid.
  • Please consider what should happen to your money or property if any of your beneficiaries die before you.
  • If a child might inherit under the terms of your Will, you should consider whether you wish the money or property to be held by someone else on their behalf until a certain age has been attained.
  • Please consider whether you wish your Will to give details of your funeral plans.
  • Please bear in mind that  your Executors will require access to the following information in the event of your death.  (It would be of administrative assistance if you retained these various documents in the same place for safe keeping and made your Executors aware of how to obtain access to these):-

-Details of any pensions/ benefits received

-Bank/ Building Society books, cards, cheque books & statements

-Life Insurance Policies

-National Savings Certificates, Premium Bonds and statements

-Insurance Certificates (Including any house/contents insurance   papers)

-Title deeds or property related papers such as Planning Permissions or -Building Warrants

-Tax papers

-Credit cards

-Vehicle Registration documents


-Stocks, shares and unit trust certificates

-Dividend counterfoils

-ISA, PEP certificates and papers

-Any other papers of importance

-Log-in details of any information held electronically


Glossary of Legal Terms Related to Making a Will



An individual, charity or other party who receives something from a Will.


Bequest (Legacy)

 A gift left in a Will. It can be:

  • Specific: a definite object or property
  • Pecuniary: a gift of a particular sum of money
  • Residuary: a gift of money or assets left when other legacies and expenses have been paid. It is normally expressed as “the residue of your estate”.



 An addition or amendment to an existing Will.



 A ratification by the appropriate Sheriff Court of an appointment of an Executor by a deceased in his Will. This term is known as probate in England.  



 The total value of everything owned at the time of death.



 The person or people you choose to carry out the instructions of your Will. They can be a relative, a friend or your solicitor.



 The person and people preferred by parents to look after their children in the event of their death.



 The term used when someone dies without making a Will.  


Inheritance Tax

 A tax deducted from estates with a value of more than a specific amount or nil-rate band set by the Government. Money left to your spouse or a charity is exempt. If your spouse pre-deceased you and did not use up their full inheritance tax allowance, the balance of their allowance will be available to your estate at the rate prevailing at your death.



 The person making the Will.



 An arrangement you can make in your Will to administer part of your assets after your death.


Prior & Legal Rights

Under Scots Law, the surviving spouse or civil partner and the children of the deceased person can have certain rights in their estate.  These are called Prior and Legal Rights.  Such rights are unique aspects of our legal system.

When there is no Will, a surviving spouse/civil partner is entitled to Prior Rights and these are as follows:-

  • A right to the deceased’s dwellinghouse in which they resided up to the value of £473,000
  • Furniture/personal effects up to the value of £29,000
  • If there are no children, cash to the sum of £89,000
  • If there are surviving children, cash to the sum of £50,000

Whether there is a Will or not, the surviving spouse/civil partner and children are entitled to Legal Rights and these are as follows:-

A surviving spouse/civil partner is entitled to a one-half share of the net moveable estate if there are no surviving children.  If there are surviving children, the right reduces to a one-third share of the net moveable estate.

Children are entitled to share in a one-half share of the net moveable estate if there is no surviving spouse/civil partner.  If there is a surviving spouse/civil partner this right reduces to share in a one-third share of the net moveable estate.

Legal Rights claims only apply to what is termed as “moveable” estate.  This includes banks and building society balances, shareholdings and investments, household contents and furniture, cars etc, but excludes land and buildings.

These rights can be claimed for up to 20 years after the date of death.


Probate (English Law)

The act or process of officially proving the authenticity and validity of a will. See 'confirmation' above for the Scottish equivalent.

Contact our Wills Solicitors Ayrshire Today

With offices in Kilmarnock, Irvine and Troon, we can help business clients all over Ayrshire and across Scotland and currently serve clients in Ayr, Troon, Arran, Kilwinning, Saltcoats, Dalry, Ardrossan, Prestwick, Stewarton and Fenwick. Contact us today to arrange an appointment.

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James B. Morrison
Managing Partner

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Caroline Nisbet

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Martha Clark

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Gill Middleton
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Stacey McIntyre

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Louisa Doole
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Catherine Morrow
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TEL: 01563 533121
FAX: 01563 522762
Bank Chambers
42 Bank Street


TEL: 01563 533121
FAX: 01563 570840
7 Bank Street



TEL: 01294 274097
FAX: 01294 279692
Galt House
78 East Road
KA12 0AA


TEL: 01292 313737
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8 Academy Street
KA10 6HS