How to write a will…
What are your options?
Paid for will writing options:
- You can pay a specialist will writing service, typically wills cost between £75-£150 depending on the complexity of your circumstances
- You can use a solicitor to assist with writing your will, which will incur a cost dependent on the solicitor. This option is typically the most popular if your circumstances are complex as they are the experts, but is likely to be the most expensive option (approx. between £100-300).
- You can buy a will template document in stationary shops for as little as £10
A free will writing option:
- You can write a will on a normal piece of paper and just explain how you would like your things shared, and then is signed and dated in the presence of two adult, independent witnesses, and then signed by them too. Please note the witnesses can’t be anyone who are in the will i.e. husband/wife. This option is only really suitable if your circumstances are simple.
…not sure what why you should bother writing a will? Click here.
Here’s what you need to remember about writing a will;
Getting married affects your will
It’s important to remember that all previous wills are revoked when you say ‘I do’. This means that if you don’t have children your surviving spouse will receive everything if you die and don’t have a will. If you create a will before you get married laying out the terms, and citing the person you ‘will’ marry, this counts after you marry
If you get divorced, review your will
Always review your will at key stages in your life. It’s worth noting that when you (legally) divorce, your existing will remains valid. Following on from that, when you’re married and you have trusts for your children, you typically make your spouse the trustee of your will – an arrangement that is invalid after divorce
Common law partners may not benefit after you die
Although the trend of couples having families without being married is increasingly popular, it’s important to know that unmarried partners do not have the same rules when it applies to wills. In this instance, it’s worth thinking about jointly owning assets (assets/businesses/property etc), and also make sure you actively add your partner into your will – for this you need to explicitly name them
Has your will be drawn up correctly?
The official requirements change from country to country – in England and Wales, technically, a post-it note can count as a will providing its executed correctly. To be valid a will must be in writing, signed, and witnessed by two people who will also need to sign it
Your mental capacity will effect your ability to make a legitimate will
It’s possible to get legal documentation (Lasting Power of Attorney, or by making an application to the Court of Protection) to authorise a ‘statutory will’ for someone that is incapacitated
A will can be challenged
In England and Wales there is a clause that allows certain people to claim financial provision from an estate where they have been left nothing, or too little – in this instance, they may be able to bring a claim to benefit under the Inheritance Act 1975. Any claims that are brought by anyone other than the spouse need to demonstrate financial need
Wills become public documents after death
They become accessible once grant of probate has been issued, by searching probate records (found on the Gov website). This is true for the general population, with the exception of the royal family and estates that have very little tax due
Donating to charity can reduce your tax bill
Donating to charity reduces the amount of inheritance tax that will need to be paid on an estate. For example, if you give away 10% of your net estate, it will reduce the rate of inheritance tax they would pay on the remainder of the estate from 40% to 36%, with the gift to the charity also being free of IHT