Contents of Wills—beneficiaries who can take under a Will
Contents of Wills—beneficiaries who can take under a Will

The following Wills & Probate guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Contents of Wills—beneficiaries who can take under a Will
  • Identification
  • Children
  • Charities
  • Gifts for upkeep of tombs and graves
  • Animals
  • Gifts to non-charitable bodies
  • Minors
  • Persons of unsound mind
  • Insolvent beneficiaries
  • more


Beneficiaries must be clearly identified in the Will, otherwise the gift will fail for uncertainty. When drafting a Will, state the beneficiaries' names and addresses as well as their relationship to the testator. If the gift is to an individual person rather than a group, it is unwise to describe that person by relationship alone because there may be more than one person answering that description. Where the identity of the person who fits the description changes, it is the person who fits that description at the date of the Will who is construed as the beneficiary.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA 2004) provides transsexuals who have obtained a full gender recognition certificate with legal recognition of their acquired gender.

The effect of legal recognition is that, for example, a male-to-female transsexual person will be legally recognised as a woman in English law for all purposes. GRA 2004, s 15 provides that a change of gender does not affect the distribution of property under a Will or other instrument made before 4 April 2005 (GRA 2004, s 9 (1)). For Wills or other instruments made after that day, the general principle stated in GRA 2004, s 9(1) will apply.

The court has power to make orders to deal with the situation where the devolution of property under a Will or