Making a will is one of the most important things that you can do. Each year, 1 in 3 people die without having a written will in place to protect their assets for their families. This can make what is already a difficult and distressing time complicated and even more unpleasant, as no set directive is in place to indicate who gets what.
Although it’s often difficult or unpleasant to consider death, it’s very important to make a will – even if you consider yourself to be young and in good health. This way you know that your family are protected and your assets will be distributed in line with your personal wishes.
Here is a short video we have produced that sets out what you need to think about if writing a will in the UK.
At UK Care Guide we’re dedicated to providing clear, comprehensive advice for individuals who need care and their relatives. In this article we explain why making a will is important, and how you can obtain one to ensure that your family are financially provided for.
Over 70% of people in the UK below the age of 64 have not yet drawn up their last will and testament. A greater number of over 65s possess a will – but still over 40% haven’t yet obtained one. Some people don’t feel they have enough to leave – others prefer not to contemplate the future.
Many believe that it will be easily sorted out after their death. Few people understand how to make a will. But in fact neglecting to draw up a will can have devastating consequences for your bereaved family – who may even have to apply to the court to gain access to your money to pay for funeral costs, mortgages and other important expenses.
For this reason it’s very important to understand how to make a will, and what could happen if you don’t.
Of the tens of thousands in the UK who die intestate (without a will), many leave behind families who simply don’t have a right to access their funds. This could be because they were not married to their partner, or the will they had drawn up wasn’t legally valid.
One myth regarding death intestate is the belief that the government will take a significant portion of your funds. When an individual dies intestate their estate is subject to the Rules of Intestacy.
These guidelines dictate who gets your assets, and how much each party receives. Under the Rules of Intestacy only married or civil partners (and on occasion other close relatives) are entitled to benefit financially from your estate.
This means that well over ten thousand people in the UK alone could have benefited if they had known how to make a will, and had understood the importance of it.
When you die the person that deals with your estate will apply for probate. You can read more about the costs of probate in your article here.
The cost of making a will varies – and depends on whether you choose to write a will yourself, or enlist the help of a professional will writer. On average you should expect to pay anywhere between £150 and £500 for a single will drawn up by a professional. For joint wills it’s more likely to be between £200 and £700.
The cost is influenced by the complexity of your affairs – for instance a person with few belongings and a small family would pay less than someone with multiple assets, many beneficiaries and a large property portfolio.
You can also choose to make a joint will. This is where you create your will as a couple, usually as husband and wife, although this is not mandatory. The cost of making a will as a couple is slightly higher than the cost of a single will. The other thing to think about is a living will, which allows you to make decisions about your later life now.
Click here to read more about living wills and discretionary trust wills, which are different types of Wills you can have. Its important that you understand exactly what type of will you want and the fees for doing so.
Although budget is often an issue for individuals looking to create a will, the cost of making a will should not influence your selection. Instead you should make sure that the will you have drawn up is comprehensive and will be fit for purpose when the time comes for it to be executed.
One of the key questions many people ask when embarking on obtaining a will is ‘How do I make a will?’
But whilst it’s more cost-effective to take care of writing a will yourself, there are some drawbacks. Instead of deciding definitively not to enlist professional help you should carefully consider how you’ll undertake this important task.
We DO NOT recommend that you make your own will as getting it wrong can have significant consequences.
Before asking ‘How do I make a will?’ think about why you are making a will in the first place.
Do you want to protect your assets for family and friends? Is this important for future generations of your family? Are there relatives who you don’t want to benefit from your will? Perhaps you are concerned about Inheritance Tax.
Once you’ve asked yourself these questions you may still come to the conclusion that you’re better off drawing up your will independently. So now instead of asking ‘How do I make a will?’ – ask yourself, ‘What do I need this will to do for me?’. Remember that if the will is ineffective the consequences for your family could be very difficult, and your wishes may not be respected.
Remember that you should only make a will yourself if your wishes are very simple and basic. Anything complex should be taken care of by a professional will writer.
If you do choose to draw up the will yourself, you should firstly read articles (like this one) to familiarise yourself with the process and ensure that you are covering all essential aspects of the will. There are kits available – these can be purchased from post offices and online.
Make sure that if you use one of these kits they are purchased from a reputable source. However, our recommendation will always be to use a professional will writer to ensure their are no unintended mistakes.
You may also want to consider a Living Will which allows you to make some decisions now about your medical treatment when you are older.
When writing your will you will need:
Overall, we would always recommend that you use a will writing professional as they can ensure that all aspects are definitely covered.
It is however important to remember that estates worth over £325,000 are subject to Inheritance Tax. Inheritance Tax is applicable for property, possessions and any other financial assets. Inheritance Tax is set at 40%, with funds coming from your estate rather than the pocket of your recipients.
Professional solicitors specialising in will writing can help you to ensure that as little of your estate as possible is lost to Inheritance Tax – which is another crucial benefit of enlisting professional assistance with your will.
You should also factor in the cost of your funeral and other essential expenses upon your death.
In this section we cover how to make a will in the UK. Yet aside from explaining how to make a will, we’ll also be touching on the other aspects which can be problematic or confusing for anyone embarking on drawing up a will for themselves or with their partner in the UK.
There are steps that you can take to avoid paying inheritance. The key thing is estate planning and thinking about what you want to happen to your assets and money. Here is a useful article on avoiding inheritance tax and there’s a useful video below.
There are a number of reasons why it’s often better to invest in will writing solicitors or will writing professional instead of drawing up a will yourself.
Mostly will writing solicitors give you the peace of mind you need, ensuring that your assets will be fairly divided and distributed as per your wishes after your death. But certain individuals need will writing services – usually those with more complicated circumstances.
These include individuals and couples who may need to pay Inheritance Tax, business owners, those with overseas assets or property and anyone with a complex familial situation (children from previous marriages, vulnerable relatives).
Will writing solicitors also store your will safely and securely for you, so you don’t need to worry about it going missing or astray when the time comes.
You can leave your details at the top or bottom of this page and we will arrange for a solicitor to contact you.
Alternatively, you can click here to find a directory of professional will writers that can support you in you your area.
Will writers are professionals who have particular expertise in drawing up wills. Will writers can be found up and down the country – both as part of larger firms and as independent individuals. Some will writers also have specialisms.
One of the best places to look for will writers in your area is the internet. Here you’ll find plenty of websites and directory sites filled with local specialists. However it’s best to narrow your search and save time by directly visiting a reputable site which only lists verified companies and professionals (like our UKCG directory).
When searching for will writing solicitors you should also check to see whether they have any testimonials or reviews. Their credentials are important – so this is key, along with ensuring their qualifications and any relevant legal memberships are clearly displayed.
Some will writers are based in offices, whilst others come to your home – so take into account your own personal preferences, too.
If you are dealing with bereavement and considering the Will of a loved one. You should read our guide that sets out the 10 steps to dealing with bereavement.
1. Have an executor – By not having a Will, it means that you cannot name an executor of your Will. This means that someone that has to be appointed to administer your affairs.
2. Protect your children – If you have children, it is likely you want to name someone to act as the guardian. If you don’t have anyone named, then the government may get involved and your wishes may not be followed.
3. Choose your burial preference – Do you have a preference between a burial or a cremation. If so, the Will is the opportunity to have your wishes set out. IN addition, if you have a cremation you can set out where you would like your ashes scattered. Either way, we would always recommend that you think about a pre-paid funeral plan to ease the cost of your funeral. You can read more about your funeral plans here.
4. Giving your children what you want – You may have some thoughts about how you want your assets split between your children. A will ensures that these wishes are met.
5 – Protecting your assets – If the unthinkable happens and some dreadful event leads to all your family passing away in a single event, you could find that your assets go to a person in your family that you do not even know. A Will protects against this and also allows you to think about whether you may want your money passed to a charity.
6 – Protecting your grandchildren – Would you like your estate to go to your grandchildren if their parents predecease you? Only a will can properly set out what is to happen in the event a family member was to die.
7 – Protecting your family business – A family business or heirloom may not be able to stay in your family if you were to die, and it may be necessary to liquidate the assets. When there is something of significant value like a business, it is so important to plan ahead to avoid potential conflicts.
8 – Your beneficiaries – Without a will, you are unable to exclude or include beneficiaries.
If you are a Scottish resident slightly different rules and processes for making a will apply to you. Although the same Inheritance Tax threshold applies (and the processes and preparation involved are identical) there are certain legal differences you’ll need to take into account when making a will (Scotland only).
For more information on making a will in Scotland you can take a look at these useful references:
It is advisable to review your will periodically to ensure that it is still up to date and valid. You should also review your will following any major changes or life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a new child or the death of a beneficiary.
You can make minor alterations to your will – such as names or certain property, using what is known as a codicil.
Any codicils should be overseen by a solicitor and kept with a copy of your original will – as if they are lost this could raise questions over your will upon your death. If you’re significantly changing your will or are altering more than several parts it’s best to write a new will. This will incur a fresh cost, but it’s better to ensure that it is correct and up to date.
Another important area you should consider is to produce a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Here is our directory of will writing professionals you can approach.
Whilst its a difficult subject to think about, increasingly pre-paid funeral plans are becoming popular. You can access a link to providers here.