How to Start Making a Will
22 January 2018
Before you start making your Will, it’s best to think about the questions that you’ll need to answer. For example, who do you want to name as your Executors? Who do you want to leave an inheritance to? What exactly do you want them to receive, and when?
These are all things that you’ll need to decide when making a Will. Whilst you can discuss your options with one of our Will writers, it’s useful to give the matter some thought in advance.
Decisions to Make when Writing a Will
With Co-op Legal Services you can start making a Will online whenever you like. You can then choose a time for one of our Will writers to call you, and your Will can then be finalised over the phone. If you’d prefer, you can instead complete the whole Will writing process by telephone. Appointments with a Will writer are available from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday.
When you start making your Will, you’ll be asked a number of questions. The answers you provide will form the basis of your draft Will (the initial version). So before you start, it’s worth knowing the kind of things you’ll be asked, and the types of decisions you’ll need to make when writing a Will.
1. Type of Will
The first decision you’ll need to make is what type of Will you want. 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 standard Single Will and is best for people who want to record their own individual wishes. If the wishes of you and your loved one are very similar (typically your partner or spouse) then you may want to make standard Mirror Wills.
Alternatively there are various Trust Wills available. These may be more suitable if, for example, you want to benefit your partner but have children from a previous relationship. A Trust Will may also be beneficial if you’re looking to protect your Estate against care home fees, or if one of your beneficiaries is disabled and unable to manage any money you leave them.
If you’re not sure what kind of Will you need, we can discuss this with you during your telephone appointment with our Co-op Will writing team.
You’ll then need to decide who your beneficiaries are, and what you want each of them to receive. This is the main purpose of a Will and it’s important to give the matter careful consideration.
You’re not going to know exactly what you’ll have when you die, so your will sets out a structure of where you’d like everything you have left (after your debts have been paid off) to go. You might want everything you own (called your Estate) to pass to one person. But if that person dies before you, you need to decide who your Estate should pass to instead. Or you might want to name a number of beneficiaries, with each receiving an equal or unequal share of your Estate. You can also include specific gifts – for instance, you might want your niece Jane to have your piano or you can leave a fixed sum of money, like £2,000 to your favourite charity.
You can also create Trusts in your Will. There are different types of Trust Wills, and they each have their own benefit. One reason you might want to create a Trust is if you wish to leave an inheritance to someone who is unable to handle their own affairs. This would enable you to put money into a Trust, which would then be managed by Trustees on the beneficiary’s behalf, until a certain time.
You’ll need to provide the names and addresses of all your beneficiaries.
If you’re uncertain about the ways in which you can leave your Estate to your beneficiaries, we’ll always be happy to explain the options available.
3. Legal Guardians
If you have a child or children under the age of 18, you’ll need to decide who you want their Legal Guardians to be. These Legal Guardians will be responsible for your child’s care, should you and the other parent both die before their eighteenth birthday.
Understandably this is a very difficult thing to think about. But it’s vital that you do, because if anything does happen to you, it means your children will be cared for by the person (or people) of your choice. It’s a good idea to speak to your preferred Legal Guardians before naming them in the Will – otherwise it may come as a shock, should they be called on in the future.
You’ll need to provide the names and addresses of your children’s Legal Guardians.
If you’re struggling to make a decision, see Choosing a Legal Guardian for your Children, or speak to one of our Will writers for guidance.
Next, you’ll need to decide who you want your Executors to be. Executors are the people who will apply for Probate and wind up your affairs after your death. You can name individuals (typically a friend or family member) or you can name a professional Executor (like Co-op Legal Services). You can have as many Executors as you like, although only four can act at a time. Most people will also name substitute Executors in their Will.
You’ll need to provide the names and addresses of your Executors.
If you’re not sure who to put down as your Executors, take a look at our Executor Guides, or speak to one of our Will Advisors to understand more about what the role involves.
5. Other Wishes
Finally, you’ll be asked if there are any other wishes that you’d like to be carried out after your death. This generally refers to specific funeral wishes, such as whether you’d prefer to be buried or cremated. You don’t have to make any decisions regarding this if you don’t want to.
Start Making Your Will Online
This gives an overview of the kind of questions you’ll need to answer when making a Will. There’s a lot to think about, especially if you have children or a complex set of wishes. If you’re not sure where to start, we’d recommend telephoning us to speak with one of our Will Advisors or you can request a call back and we’ll call you. Alternatively, you can start the will writing process online with our Online Will Service.
We’re confident that once you’ve either spoken to us or experienced the Online Will Service, you’ll be surprised how easy we’ve made it. We also offer all will writing services on a fixed fee basis so you’ll know exactly what the cost will be without any nasty surprises.