Advice Admin & Legal What is a beneficiary in a will?

What is a beneficiary in a will?

One of the most important reasons to write a will is to decide who will inherit your estate - these people (or charities) are called your beneficiaries. Find out everything you need to know about beneficiaries before writing your will.

Who can be a beneficiary and benefit from your will?

In England and Wales, you can leave your estate to almost anyone. Choosing who you want to benefit from your assets must be done by making a will. Without doing so, it's left to the courts to distribute your estate according to the laws of intestacy.

Making your beneficiaries clear

Make sure all the information you include about your beneficiaries is up-to-date and accurate. This makes the job of your executor easier and also ensures any specific gifts you want to leave go to the right people.

Overseas beneficiaries

Any beneficiaries who are overseas are treated much in the same way as a beneficiary you may have in the UK. This is, of course, quite common as the world's more interconnected and people have family and close friends all over.

Again, it's important for your executors to be able to easily identify and find your beneficiaries after your death. Make sure you include up to date addresses and full legal names if you are naming anyone living overseas in your will.

Do you have anyone dependent on you?

When writing your will you may want to think about any people who may depend on you and how you can keep providing for them in case you die. If someone's dependent on you but you don't have will, they might not receive anything from your estate.

There may be people who could apply for provision from the estate of someone who has died if they depend upon it.

This could be a:

  • Current married or civil partner
  • Former married or civil partner unless they've remarried or formed another civil partnership
  • Cohabiting partner of at least 2 years
  • Any children you have

It’s fair to say that these are the people most of us would imagine when we think of family and dependants.

Excluding people from your will

It's possible that you may want to exclude someone from your will and in this case you may want to leave a message explaining why.

Disinheriting someone may not always be possible. However, if you truly wish to exclude a person from benefitting from the estate, you should consider explaining why clearly and fully.