How to Make a Will
28 April 2017
Many people assume that making a Will is complicated, but by providing you with the right advice and a Co-op Will writer to help you every step of the way, we make the Will writing process easy.
What to Do First
Before you start to think about ‘how’ to make your Will, there are some decisions that you’re going to need to make.
The first decision is what type of Will is best for you. There are different types of Wills, including a Single Will, Mirror Wills and Trust Wills.
How to Make a Single Will
A Single Will is best for people who want to record their own individual wishes, and who don’t want to create a Trust Will.
When making a Single Will, you need to decide:
- Who’s going to benefit from your Estate when you die, and in what proportions. These people are called your Beneficiaries
- Who’s going to benefit from your Estate if the Beneficiaries have died before you
- Who’s going to look after your children that are under the age of 18. These people are called Legal Guardians
- Who’s going to wind up your affairs when you die. These people are called your Executors
- Whether you want to leave any gifts to charities, and if so, how much
- Whether you want any specific funeral arrangements
You can either have made these decisions before you start to make your Will or you can discuss your thoughts with your Co-op Will writer at your appointment. Once you’ve decided want you want to do you’ll need to have certain information to hand, including the names and addresses of your Beneficiaries, Executors and Legal Guardians.
When you’re ready to start the process of making a Will then you can speak to our Wills team to answer any initial questions and get a fixed fee quote. You can write a Will yourself, but you run the risk of a mistake being made, meaning it may not be legally valid after you pass away. If so, any wishes that you’ve recorded may not be taken into account and the law could decide who gets what instead.
Once you’ve had your Will writing appointment you’ll receive the draft Will. You’ll need to check that everything has been accurately recorded. If you’d like any amendments, simply ask your Co-op Will writer to make the changes at this stage. When you’ve got the final version, you need to sign the Will in front of two independent witnesses. These witnesses will then need to sign the Will in your presence.
Afterwards your Will is legally effective and you’ll need to store your Will somewhere safe. Co-op Legal Services offer free lifetime storage of your Co-op Will. It’s sometimes a good idea to let loved ones know where the original Will is kept.
How to Make a Mirror Will
Mirror Wills are best for couples who have very similar wishes. Take, for example, Mr and Mrs Smith. They want to leave everything to each other, and after they’ve both passed away, they want to distribute their entire Estate equally between their children. Their wishes mirror each other, the main difference being that if Mr Smith dies first, he leaves everything to his wife, whereas if Mrs Smith dies first, she leaves everything to her husband.
So you and your partner will need to decide what to write in your Mirror Wills together, as your wishes should reflect each other’s. However some things may differ, such as your individual funeral arrangements or specific gifts of smaller sentimental items.
When making a Mirror Will, you need to have the same type of information ready as you would when making a Single Will. For instance, the names and addresses of your Beneficiaries, Executors and Legal Guardians.
Like a Single Will, you can ask a professional Will writer to draft your Mirror Wills. Again, you’ll need to sign the documents in front of two independent witnesses.
How to Make a Trust Will
Trust Wills are best for people who want to put all of their Estate, or part of it, into a Trust. Trusts in Wills work by holding certain assets for named Beneficiaries, who will then receive these assets at a specified time. Until then, the assets are managed by a Trustee.
Trust Wills are a good option if your Beneficiaries are unable to manage their own affairs – perhaps because they’re too young, disabled, or suffering from an illness or addiction. Trust Wills also have other advantages, such as protecting your Estate from care home fees.
To make a Trust Will, its best to speak with us first to help you decide:
- What type of Trust you want to include in your Will. There are different types, including a Discretionary Trust, a Property Trust and a Life Interest Trust
- What you want to include in the Trust
- When you want the Beneficiaries of the Trust to receive their inheritance
- Who you want to name as the Trustees
Trust Wills need to be worded very specifically, so it’s important to get the right advice.
How to Make a Will and a Lasting Power of Attorney
When making a Will, it can be a good idea to put a Lasting Power of Attorney in place at the same time. A Lasting Power of Attorney gives your loved ones the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf, should there ever come a time when you’re unable to make decisions for yourself.
People often choose to take out a Lasting Power of Attorney while making a Will, as they’re already thinking about what they’d like to happen in the future. The main difference is that a Lasting Power of Attorney will take effect during your lifetime, whereas a Will takes effect after you die.
To make a Lasting Power of Attorney, you’ll need to consider:
- What type of Lasting Power of Attorney you’d like. There are two types (a Health and Welfare LPA or a Property and Financial Affairs LPA) and you can have one or both in place
- Who you’d like to make decisions on your behalf. These people are called your Attorneys
- Who you’d like to be your Replacement Attorneys, should one of your original Attorneys be unable or unwilling to act
- How you would like your Attorneys to act
- The name of your certificate provider. This is a person who has known you for at least 2 years who can confirm that you understand the nature and effect of the LPA
The Lasting Power of Attorney needs to be prepared setting out the information listed above. You can ask a legal professional to do this on your behalf. This should ensure that nothing is overlooked and mitigate the chances of any mistakes. The Lasting Power of Attorney must then be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian for it to be activated.
Fixed Fee Wills and Lasting Power of Attorney
Co-op Legal Services offer fixed fee Will Writing and LPA services. Once we have provided you with a written quote for the agreed work to be done, that price will not change.