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We make will writing easy with our range of will writing services, including online will writing, telephone and face to face services. Our fixed cost will writing services include free, secure storage. The fixed fee we quote is the fee you pay. There will be no nasty surprises.
As part of the Co-op Group, our values of openness, honesty, social responsibility and caring for others are core to the service we provide.
What happens if I die without making a will?
If you live in England or Wales and die without writing a legally valid will, the government will decide who gets what. If you have no living family members, all your property and possessions will go to the Crown. If you have children under 18 years old, other people can make decisions about who will take care of the children and manage their finances, education and living arrangements. By making a will you can specify your wishes.
What exactly is a will?
A will is a legal document that allows you to state what should happen to your assets (your money, property, investments and possessions) as well as your young children after you have passed away.
There are different types of will available, and they each suit different needs. Is the will just for you or you and your partner? A basic will for a single person is known as a single will and is best for people who want to record their own individual wishes. If your wishes are very similar to someone else's (typically your partner or spouse) then you may want to make standard mirror wills together.
Alternatively there are various trust wills available. These may be more suitable if, for example, you want to provide for your partner but also have children from a previous relationship. A trust will can also help to protect your estate against care home fees, or it can be used to protect inheritance if a beneficiaries is unable to manage their finances.
By making a will you can:
- appoint people you trust to look after your children under 18 years (called guardians)
- appoint people you trust to carry out the terms of your will (called executors)
- name the people or charities you want to benefit from your estate (called beneficiaries)
- leave gifts of specific items or fixed sums of money (called legacies)
- create trusts to help protect your assets for future generations, protect against residential care costs or help vulnerable or disabled beneficiaries
- state your funeral wishes
A will is one of the most important legal documents you will ever sign. If you die without a valid will in England or Wales the law can decide who has responsibility for children under 18 and who receives your money, property, cars, pets and all your other belongings.
Your will deals with your belongings (property, bank accounts, personal possessions etc.) that you own at the time of your death and not at the time you write your will. So even if you don't have much to leave now, your financial situation could change significantly in the future, particularly if you expect to have paid off your mortgage or are likely to receive an inheritance at some point.
Making a will clarifies your wishes and enables you to give your loved ones financial protection after you die. If you are a couple with similar wishes you may want to make Mirror Wills, which are separate wills that mirror one another, with each person leaving their assets to each other or the same beneficiaries.
What types of gifts can I include in my will?
When you're writing your will, there are a number of ways you can divide your estate:
- A fixed sum of money - For example, you may want to leave £5,000 to your nephew. This is called a pecuniary bequest.
- A specific item – If there is a specific possession that you want to leave to someone (such as a family heirloom or piece of jewellery) this is called a specific bequest.
- A percentage of your estate (after everything else has been paid off) – This enables you to state that you want someone to receive, say, 10% of what's left in your estate after debts, tax and other expenses have been paid. This is called a residuary bequest.
It's also possible for your will to say that you would like to leave a gift to someone if they survive you, but that you would like this gift to be passed on to someone else if they don't. This is called a reversionary bequest.
Can an executor of a will also be a beneficiary?
Yes they can. There is no reason why any family member, friend or anyone else benefiting from your will cannot be an executor, as long as they are over 18. Perhaps a more important question to ask is, are they willing and able to be an executor? It's worth having this conversation with them first if you're unsure.
What if I don't have anything to leave?
Virtually everyone has something to leave behind even if it’s just their personal possessions. However, even if you may not have much money or property now, that doesn’t mean that you will not have more to leave in the future. Do you play the lottery? Are you likely to receive an inheritance from a relative? As no one really knows when they are likely to die or how much they will own, the safest course of action is to write a will so your wishes are clear.
Tips for writing a will if you have young children
The first thing to consider is who you would choose to look after your children if you die. If you currently have parental responsibility over your children and they are under 18 years old, then you can appoint a guardian for your children in your will. This appointment only takes effect if there is no one else with parental responsibility over your children when you die.
You can also include your children as beneficiaries in your will even if they are young. You should decide at what age you would like your children to access their inheritance (often 18, 21 or 25). While the child is under that age, their inheritance will be held in a trust and managed on their behalf by people called trustees, who can also be appointed in your will.
Can I include funeral wishes in my will?
Absolutely, you can go into as much detail as you like but bear in mind that this particular aspect of your will is just an expression of a wish and is not legally binding on your executors.
Can a will help protect my home against potential care home fees?
Yes, writing a trust will can be an effective way to protect your home or savings against care home fees in the future.
Making a will and mental capacity
To make a will, you have to fully understand what you are doing and its implications. This is known as having mental capacity. You need to have capacity to understand what you are doing at the time the will is made and also at the time it is executed (i.e. signed in the presence of two witnesses).
There are four things that must exist at the same time to prove testamentary capacity. A person must:
- Understand that the document will deal with the distribution of their estate when they die
- Understand what's in their estate (this doesn’t mean every individual asset and liability, or their exact values but there must be a general awareness)
- Understand if there are people who could have a moral claim on their estate, regardless of whether that person is included as a beneficiary in their will
- Not be suffering from a 'disorder of the mind'
One way to help prove testamentary capacity is to have your will professionally written. A professional service should ensure that an assessment of capacity takes place and this should be recorded on file for future reference.
Our will writing service makes the process easy
Making a will can be quick and easy if you use a will writing service to provide you with the right guidance and support. At Co-op Legal Services, our will writing service provides you with a specialist to help you complete each step of the process, from start to finish. Our will writing advisors can discuss your wishes, offer recommendations and help you to make a will that’s right for you and your circumstances.
Co-op Legal Services is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). So you can have peace of mind that your will is written in a way that is recognised by the law.
There are a number of ways for you to write a will with us. We offer an online will writing service, a telephone will writing service, a video will writing service and face to face will writing in your own home.
Can any of my beneficiaries be a witness when I am making my will?
No. A beneficiary in your will should not be a witness to you signing it. The spouse or civil partner of the beneficiary should not be a witness either. If they do witness your will, their gift could fail.
Can I nominate Co-op Legal Services to be my executor?
Yes you can. Co-op Legal Services offers a Professional Executor Service. This is a popular option with people who don't want their loved ones to have to deal with all the legal and financial responsibilities of probate after they're gone.
There is no charge to name Co-op Legal Services as an executor in your will. If we do act as executor after you die, there is a fixed fee cost which is agreed with your executor before any work is carried out.
Our probate fixed fee quote is calculated when you die and is based on the value and complexity of your estate.
Where should I store my will?
Your will should be stored somewhere safe, where your executors know to find it. When you write a will with us, we can securely store the original will for you, completely free of charge, for the rest of your life. Alternatively, you can choose to store your will yourself.
If your Will is held by Co-op Legal Services then your executor will need to contact us to inform us when you have died. We can then arrange to release your original Will from our secure storage facility.
We will confirm the identity of the executor and offer free help and guidance to make sure they know their responsibilities. We can also offer our professional assistance if needed.
Can my will be challenged?
Yes - all wills can be challenged. The real question is 'can my will be successfully challenged?'
If your Will includes your nearest relatives and dependents such as your husband, wife or civil partner and your children, there is little reason why your will should be challenged. But, if you exclude someone who might expect to benefit from your will, or there is a suggestion that you do not have mental capacity or have been influenced or coerced whilst making your will, then there is a real possibility your will could be challenged.
You can reduce the risk of a successful challenge by getting your will professionally drafted with the help of a will writing specialist, regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. A properly drafted will is more likely to hold up to any future challenge.
Talking to your family and loved ones about your will is also important, particlualrly if you are going to exclude them. This prevents questions about your motivation after you've died. Alternatively, you could write a letter to your executors which sets out the reasons why you've excluded a particular person from the will. This is called a Letter of Wishes and it can be stored with your will.
Are will writing services available in Scotland?
At Co-op Legal Services, we offer will writing and lasting power of attorney services in England and Wales. However, these services are also available in Scotland through our partnership with a Scottish will writing provider. For more information, see Scottish will and power of attorney services.
Co-op Legal Services has over 600 staff working in different businesses with offices in Manchester, Bristol, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sheffield and London.
I was made to feel at ease from the very first phone call. The advisor made the whole thing seem so simple and it was. (J. M.)
There is no such thing as writing a standard will
There is only one of you and your will is personal to your circumstances, your wishes and your assets. When making a will you need to consider questions such as:
- Who will look after your children?
- What will happen to your home?
- What will happen to your pets?
- Will Inheritance Tax (IHT) be payable on your estate?
These are just a few of the points we'll cover with you as part of our will writing service.
Have you got a question about making a will? You can get free initial guidance with our will writing service, so please feel free to get in touch. Our Head of Wills, expert will writing Solicitor, James Antoniou, answers questions about wqill writing in this video called questions to consider when writing a will.
Start your will online
Get started with our online will writing service and you'll get a follow up call to answer any queries and finalise your will.