11. Beneficiaries of a will can be executors/trustees but can not be witnesses. Nor can spouses of witnesses (it’s debateable whether a non civil partner is included in this definition but legally not) can not be witnesses either.
12. Certain transactions (for example land) have to be done by deed. To make a document a deed it must say “this is a deed” or such like. The deed must be “signed, witnessed and delivered”. Actually it is sufficient for it to be intended to be delivered even if it never was. Prior to 1989 it had to be “signed sealed delivered” (as in the Stevie Wonder song…I’m yours). The rules changed in 1989.
13. A will has been written to probate on the shell of an egg and on the side of a toilet. Not recommended but it can be done.
14. A soldier’s will (about to go into action) does not need to be witnessed and can be written in pencil.
15. The shortest provisions in any will are “all to wife”. The will must still revoke earlier wills, appoint executors, be dated and be signed and witnessed.
16. If you leave somebody an asset (as apposed to the use of an asset) you can not dictate what happens to it after your death. For example you can not say that “my son can have my house but if he gets married he has got to sell it and have the money instead”. This amounts to an “instruction from the grave” and is not allowed.
17. You can not give an asset away but retain an interest in it to avoid inheritance tax. Either you give the asset away or you don’t. If you transfer your house to your children but continue to live in it rent free then the revenue are likely to view this as “a gift with reservation” and treat it as though you still owned it for inheritance tax purposes. There is no way of giving assets away but retaining control of them. And, yes, if you give all your assets away to your children they can spend them, sell them, or do whatever they like with them. That’s what giving them away means.
18. If you make a nut and bolt costing 10p and you know that it is going to be used in an airplane and the airplane falls out of the sky because the bolt broke, then the measure of damages can be totally disproportionate to the value of the faulty item provided that it was “within the contemplation of the parties” what it would be used for.
19. If you’re getting divorced then English courts no longer apportion blame. It doesn’t matter that you actually catch your partner in a compromising situation it will not affect the financial outcome of any divorce settlement. The only time that a court will apportion blame in divorce is if conduct of one party has affected children.
20. Once a will has been admitted to probate it becomes it becomes a public document. Anybody can obtain a copy from the Probate Registry for a fee of £5 providing they know the place and date of birth. For that reason it is probably a good idea, if you’re excluding somebody from your will not to mention why. That would usually be dealt with by a separate “letter of wishes”.