How to Write a Will
28 December 2017
If you’ve decided that it’s time to write a Will, then the first thing to say is “well done” – writing a Will is very important, even more so if you have children, but it’s something that many people put off doing.
But now that you’ve decided to write a Will, you may be wondering how to start and whether you should write your own Will or pay a professional.
DIY vs Professional Will Writer
The first thing you need to figure out is whether you’re going to write the Will yourself (known as a DIY Will) or pay for a professional Will writing service to prepare it for you. There are pros and cons to each.
The advantage of a DIY Will is that it will be cheaper than a professional Will writer. But the risk of you making a mistake is high, particularly if you have a complicated Estate, a difficult family situation or you want to create a Trust in your Will.
This could lead to difficulties for your loved ones after your death, as certain gifts in your Will may fail due to the wording you’ve used. It’s very easy to get things wrong or misunderstand how the law works. This could lead to certain assets not being treated as part of the will or the entire Will being deemed invalid, meaning it won’t count for anything after your death. When the latter occurs, it’s the same as if you had died Intestate, meaning the law will decide who gets what.
These are some of the things that you won’t have to worry about if using Co-op Legal Services to write your Will, who are legally regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Yes, it will initially be more expensive that a DIY Will because you’re paying for a professional service, but you could potentially be saving thousands of pounds in the long run if your DIY will isn’t clear or causes a dispute. Many people feel it’s worth paying a moderate amount to have peace of mind that their wishes are legally recognised after they’ve gone.
Type of Will
You’ll also need to choose the type of Will you want. There are different Wills available, including a Single Will, Mirror Wills, Trust Wills and Living Wills. They each suit different needs and (unless you have enough knowledge and experience) you’re unlikely to know which is the most appropriate for your circumstances. If you’re using a Co-op Will writer, we can explain the options and help you get the best type of Will for your needs.
What to Include in a Will
Once you’ve decided on the type of Will, you can get down to the nitty gritty of what to include in your Will. You need to think carefully about this, as your Executors have a duty to follow the instructions you’ve left in your Will. So you need to ensure you’ve really considered what your wishes are, and what you want to happen to your property, money and belongings after you die.
In a Will You Need to Include:
- Who you want to benefit from your estate
- What you want each beneficiary to receive – a percentage of everything or a fixed amount
- Who should receive a beneficiary’s inheritance, should he/she die before you
- If you want to make any specific gifts of personal possessions to individuals, charity or other organisations
- Who you want your Executors to be
- Who should be the Legal Guardians for any children you may have under the age of 18
- Any particular funeral wishes.
If you’re using a Co-op Will writer, you’ll be guided through the various things you need to include in your Will, be able to discuss your circumstances and ask questions. All you need to do is make the decisions and provide certain information, including the full names and addresses of your beneficiaries, Executors and Legal Guardians.
Sign Your Will
Once the Will has been written, you need to sign it in front of two independent witnesses. They then need to sign your Will in your presence. There are strict rules around how it needs to be signed and who is allowed to witness your signature on the Will. You need to get this right, or it could invalidate all or some of your Will. For more details see Who Can Witness a Will?
Store Your Will
Finally, you need to store your Will somewhere very safe. Some professional Will writers, including Co-op Legal Services, offer free lifetime storage of your Will. Otherwise you need to find a place where your Will is safe, but where it can be found by your loved ones when the time comes.