A will is a legally binding document that allows you to give instructions about what you would like to happen to your estate when you die. Your estate is everything you own, including money, property and belongings.
Many of us underestimate the importance of putting together a will. It’s a way to make sure your wishes are carried out and your loved ones are provided for in a way that you’ve always wanted. It can also prevent them from having to make painful decisions or deal with financial problems that you may have left behind.
A will can also help with funeral planning as you can point your loved ones in the direction of your prefered funeral director. Organising a will means that you and your family have less to worry about.
For those of you who are unsure or need a little help with your will, we have put together this step by step guide.
How to make a will
- Calculate the value of any money, property and possession you have. Remember to include any debts and investments you have.
- Decide who you want to benefit from your will, for example, family members, friends or charities.
- Decide what you want each beneficiary to receive and how you want to divide your estate. You might want to leave a percentage of your estate, an exact amount of money or a particular possession to someone – your will is as flexible as you wish.
- Consider who you want to sort out your will, whether it’s family, friends or a professional such as a solicitor. Normally you appoint more than one individual for this in case one person is unavailable to act for you when the time comes.
- Draw up your will.
- Give a copy of your will to your executor/s along with the list of your money, property and possessions. A good idea would also be to give your solicitor or bank a copy of this.
- Make sure you review your will and update it every five years or whenever your circumstances change.
How to draw up your will
There are three different ways to draw up a will:
Ask your solicitor
Asking a solicitor to draw up your will, will ensure it’s valid and contains the correct information. This is helpful if your affairs aren’t straightforward. For example sharing a property with someone who isn’t your husband, wife or civil partner. Or, you have an ex-spouse or children from a previous relationship who may want to make a claim on your will.
Use a will writing service
A will writing service will cost but prices vary and you can approach legal firms for quotations. Services such as Beyond offer a will writing service that free, solicitor approved and easy to use.
Write a will yourself
You can also write a will yourself, but you need to be using certain language and wording for it to be legal and valid. You can ask for a solicitor’s help when writing this.
When completed, the will must be signed and witnessed by two adults who saw you sign the will. These witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of your will or a spouse/civil partner of your beneficiaries.
If you haven’t made a will or your will is invalid, your money, property and possessions will be shared out according to the law. This is known as ‘intestacy’. This means that people you want to leave your estate to could get nothing and, those who you don’t want to leave anything to could get everything. So, to make sure you get your wish, make a will.