Writing a will is very important – especially as we get older and have more assets in our possession. In this will writing guide we will explain:
– Why it’s important to have a will
– Things to consider when writing a will
– What will writing services involve and how they can help
– The benefits of using will writing solicitors
– Advice on how to get a will and tips to follow when choosing will writing solicitors
Although writing a will can be pretty straightforward, it’s often a complicated process for people who have multiple assets and several family members they’d like to benefit from their estate. You need to make sure you get advice on will writing, especially if you are thinking of writing a will online or using online will drafting services.
Even if your situation is relatively straightforward, you want to make sure that your will is watertight and will deliver on your wishes after you’re gone.
These are services provided by will writing specialists who can provide will writing advice. These services range from online will providers through to either using a professional will writer or a solicitor . The will writing cost for these services differs depending on how much support you need and how you use so it is important that you find the best will writing service, for you.
Many people understand how important it is to have a will in place – but an alarming number don’t yet have one in place, and haven’t put their wishes down in writing.
Most people put it off because they see it as something to address when they are older, or they know they need to sort it out but then forget about it.
According to charity Will Aid, over 53% of people in the UK do not yet have a will in place.
Wills are important for a number of reasons. It’s perhaps easier to look at it from a different perspective – if you die without having written a will, a number of problems can arise. Good reasons for writing a will include:
When you die without making a will you die ‘intestate’. When this occurs an individual’s assets are distributed according to a set of rules called Intestacy Rules. This set legal order decides where your money goes – and the result may not reflect your wishes.
This can understandably be very upsetting for those left behind – especially if the results appear to be unfair or are significantly different to what you would have wanted. For example, under Intestacy Rules assets can be passed to estranged family members and even former spouses.
Where there are no surviving family members, the situation becomes even more complicated. Unless long-lost relatives can be located all assets pass to the government.
As above, if you do not have a will, it’s likely your assets will be seized by the government when they could have been gifted to loved ones or even your favourite charity. Wills also offer an opportunity to introduce additional clauses such as trust funds to further protect your assets from certain taxes and allocate them to specific family members.
As part of this, a will writer may also be able to advise you on approaches you can take to avoid paying inheritance tax.
Most commonly, people write a will because they want to know that their loved ones will be cared for when they are gone. This, however may not happen or could become complex if you die without leaving a will to refer to.
As an example let’s use Mrs Bloggs. She has lived with her partner for over twenty years – but they are not married.
She has not made a will and dies unexpectedly, so her partner is not legally entitled to any of her assets. Even if you are married or are in civil partnership, dying without a will means your loved ones are less likely to inherit your estate in its entirety.
In these cases the amount a spouse is entitled to is restricted and some money may go to individuals you hadn’t planned on including in your will.
It’s also important to make sure that your will is complete and correct. It’s not enough to have a will – it also needs to be fully legal and up to date at all times. For this reason it’s a good idea to enlist professional support from a solicitor or expert with specific experience in this area of law.
Here is a short video on the importance of making a will.
Knowing when to make a will is an important consideration for everyone. Ideally, you should start thinking about writing a will as soon as you have assets, dependents, or specific wishes for the distribution of your estate after your passing.
Writing up a will lets you control how your assets are divided and who will be responsible for administering your estate.
Several options exist for making a will, including consulting with a solicitor or using online will-writing services. Both approaches have their merits, but the choice depends on your preferences and the complexity of your estate.
It is crucial to consider what to put in a will. This includes designating beneficiaries, appointing an executor, specifying asset distribution, and addressing any specific instructions or preferences you have.
Regularly reviewing and updating your will is recommended to ensure it accurately reflects your current circumstances and wishes.
Ultimately, the timing of making a will should not be delayed, as unexpected events can occur at any time. Taking proactive steps to create a will ensures that your wishes are respected and can provide peace of mind for both you and your loved ones.
UK will writing involves several steps you can take to ensure the process is done correctly.
First, familiarise yourself with what a will looks like by researching sample wills or consulting reputable resources that provide guidance on will drafting.
Will services offer an important lifeline for anyone who is concerned about leaving a legally binding, watertight will when they are gone. They are usually delivered either by will specialists trained in law, or solicitors specialising in wills.
There will be a charge for will services – but the peace of mind they offer is often invaluable. Will services can be conducted face to face, online or via post – so you can choose whichever you are most comfortable with.
Most commonly face to face meetings are preferred for clarity – as the will writer will often come to your home to chat with you. Will services may be a good option for you if:
– You understand how wills work, but need extra advice and assistance to ensure that it is done properly
– You can’t afford to pay a solicitor or would rather pay less
– You have a simple situation and straightforward circumstances
Lots of people can benefit from using the will writing company – whether you’re simply looking to get your wishes down on paper, or have a complex and large estate and lots of family members to take care of. Benefits include:
A surprising number of people write their own wills or use a ‘will writing kit’, only to leave behind an unpleasant legal dispute that rages on for months or years between family members. Using a will writing company should protect against this as it ensures that your will is legally binding.
Will writing can be a complex process. Perhaps you’re unsure of your wishes – or don’t know what the best options to take may be to protect your estate for the next generation. A will writing business can advise and assist with this.
Your will writing company may keep your details on file and remind you when it’s time to review your will. It’s a good idea to review your will on a regular basis to ensure that it is valid and still reflects your wishes. If you leave an old will and don’t update it you may find that it does not comply with current regulations and could leave your estate open to Intestacy Law.
If your situation is complex or you need a more complicated will setting out, will solicitors are likely to be a better option for you. They are fully versed in all facets of the law surrounding wills and estate planning, so they can offer you tailored advice to suit your needs. Advantages of using will solicitors include:
A solicitor can safely and securely store your will so that when the time comes it can be retrieved and actioned. Few will writers can do this for you.
Solicitors are fully legally qualified and specifically trained in this area of law. Few will writers are legally qualified – instead they receive training for wills and estate planning which allows them to give limited advice. This is fine if you want a swift and straightforward solution – but not ideal should you have more bespoke requirements. Solicitors are also fully regulated, so you’re protected should something go wrong.
You can obtain more specific advice from a solicitor in the event of a complex situation, such as multiple divorces, overseas investments, business assets or large estates.
You can choose the solicitor or law firm who draws up your will as your executor. This means they’ll be responsible for executing the will and handling arrangements when you’re gone. Often this is preferable for people who don’t wish to burden family members. There will be an additional cost for this – so make sure you’re clear on charges before you go ahead with it.
Using will writing solicitors is sometimes a more costly option compared with will writing companies. The cost can range between £150 for a basic will up to £600 for a complex will.
The creator of MoneySavingExpert.com, Martin Lewis, is well-known in the UK for his promotion of consumer rights and financial guidance. He has emphasised numerous times the significance of having a legitimate will to guarantee that your assets are dispersed in accordance with your preferences after you pass away.
The website of Martin Lewis provides a variety of will-writing guidance, including suggestions on how to do it on a budget. For instance, he has advocated taking advantage of Free Wills Month, which is held twice a year and gives those 55 and older the chance to have a basic will created or revised by a solicitor without cost.
He cautions caution and the selection of a firm that is accredited by a professional body when contemplating online will-writing services, which might be a more economical alternative for many.
Martin Lewis also stresses the significance of keeping one’s will up-to-date, particularly following big life events like marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child.
When sourcing will writing solicitors you should:
– Ask for personal recommendations from family and friends
– Choose a solicitor appropriate for your situation – some may specialise in arranging overseas assets, for example
– Shop around for the best price. You may be able to save over £100 by comparing costs.
– Make sure they are registered with The Law Society
You may also like to wait until Free Wills Month (run twice a year in March and October throughout England and Wales) or Will Aid in November. This enables you to see a solicitor for free – although the charity will strongly encourage a small donation, so its not really free!
When sourcing will writers you should:
– Check that possible will writing firms belong to either The Society of Will Writers or The Institute of Professional Will Writers. This should ensure that they are regulated and have received up to date training. They are also insured should your will be legally challenged and must follow a Code of Practice set out by Trading Standards
– Ask for reviews and testimonials – word of mouth recommendations are often helpful
To find a will writer online, there are several avenues you can explore. Start by searching for local will writers in your area through online directories or search engines. These directories often provide a list of will writers along with their contact information and websites and can help find the best place to get a will done.
Look for established and reputable will writers with positive reviews or recommendations from previous clients. This can help you identify the best will writers for your needs.
Another option is to search specifically for online will writers. These professionals offer will writing services remotely through their websites or online platforms. You can find them by conducting a targeted online search or seeking recommendations from trusted sources.
When choosing a will writer, it is important to research their credentials, experience, and any professional associations they may be affiliated with. This can give you confidence in their expertise and professionalism.
Additionally, reading client testimonials or reviews can provide insights into the quality of service offered by different will writers.
By taking these steps, you can find a reliable and reputable will writer online who can assist you with your will writing needs.
Before you organise a meeting with a solicitor to make a will, it’s worth thinking about your wishes in some detail. Consider:
– Your children: If you have children under the age of 18, you’ll need to think about who will be their legal guardian should you and your partner pass away.
– Your Assets: List your assets (everything you own) one by one. This includes property, cars etc. Note down the estimated value of each and remember to include details such as independent or shared ownership. It might be useful to locate documents such as deeds and titles now, as they can be expensive to replace if they get lost.
– Your Belongings: Remember to include smaller items in the above list – cherished items you wish to pass on.
– Executors: You’ll need to appoint an executor to ensure that the wishes in your will are carried out. Usually people appoint either a close family member or their solicitor to take care of this. It must be someone you know well and trust. Remember it can be a stressful and lengthy process – so they will need to be prepared for it and agree to it.
– Beneficiaries: These are the people or organisations who you wish to benefit from your will. Make a list before deciding who will receive what.
– Charity: Do you want to leave some money behind to your favourite charity? How much will you leave?
– Funeral instructions: You may like to leave your preferred funeral arrangements in your will along with money to pay for it. If you have not thought about paying for your funeral, you can read our article on funeral plans here. Your intentions to be an organ donor can also be included in your will – but you’ll need to be registered too.
Here is a short video explaining the benefits of a funeral plan.
– Any complex circumstances: If you have a complex situation it will need to be considered and managed early on. Examples of this include business assets you’d like to leave behind, overseas investments, exclusion of somebody who would normally benefit from your will and beneficiaries with special needs. *
– Powers of Attorney and related issues: Whilst making a will you can also arrange Lasting Power of Attorney, alongside trusts, advanced directives and more. You can read more about Powers of Attorney on this site.. The two main types of power of attorney that you should be aware about are called a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney or a Property and Financial Affairs Power of Attorney. It is important that you understand what these are and how they work.
The process itself may throw up some additional talking points – as you speak with a solicitor, they may advise certain things that you hadn’t considered before, such as trust funds.
Determining the type of will you need depends on various factors, including the complexity of your estate and your specific wishes.
To help you make informed decisions, here are some will writing tips.
If your estate is relatively straightforward and you have a good understanding of your wishes, writing a will online can be a convenient and cost-effective option.
Online platforms offer templates and guidance to assist you in creating a basic will. However, seeking professional advice is advisable if your estate is more complex, involving multiple assets, business interests, or unique circumstances.
Local will services, such as solicitors or will writers, can provide personalized guidance and ensure that your will meets all legal requirements. They can also address specific considerations and complexities that may arise.
Complex will writing may involve provisions such as trusts, tax planning, or ensuring the well-being of vulnerable beneficiaries. By consulting professionals experienced in complex estate planning, you can ensure that your will accurately reflects your wishes and provides the necessary legal protection.
Remember, regardless of the type of will you need, it is important to review and update it as circumstances change regularly.
In our experience, Co-op Legal Services is a reputable and reliable option for drafting wills. They offer various services tailored to personal circumstances, including single wills, mirror wills, and complex wills for those with unique legal requirements.
As a part of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Co-op Legal Services ensures that your will is a legally valid document, offering you the peace of mind that your estate will be distributed according to your wishes.
The will writing firm also provides guidance for those who have an existing will and need to make amendments, ensuring their new will accurately reflects their current situation.
Co-op Legal Services can help protect someone’s interests, especially in complex family situations or when considering the needs of a disabled family member.
They also provide support for civil partners and those in registered civil partnerships, drafting separate wills or mirror wills based on the individuals’ requirements.
When we tested various online will writing services, we discovered that these platforms offer several advantages.
They often provide a cost-effective solution, with some services even offering a completely free will option for those with simple needs. Online will writing services can save time, as they allow users to create a will from the comfort of their own home at their own pace.
Additionally, many of these services provide the same level of protection as traditional, locally-based solicitors.
We found that online will writing services offer guidance for those with different personal circumstances, such as those with overseas property or specific inheritance laws to consider.
These services can also help address parental responsibility and funeral wishes, ensuring your will reflects your preferences. With most online platforms, a properly drafted and professionally written will requires two witnesses to be legally valid, which is consistent with British wills regulations.
Moreover, online services often have additional resources to help users avoid confusion and ensure their wills are updated as circumstances change.
To find the best online will writer services, it’s important to conduct thorough research and consider several factors.
Start by looking for reputable online will services that have positive customer reviews and ratings. You can then compare will writing services and find the best option for you.
Seek recommendations from trusted sources, such as friends, family, or legal professionals. Explore different online will services and compare their features, pricing structures, and ease of use. Consider whether they provide comprehensive templates, clear instructions, and the ability to customise your will to fit your specific needs.
Look for services that offer customer support to address any queries or concerns that may arise during the process. Additionally, check if the online will writing services are associated with established legal organisations or have qualified professionals involved.
This can provide assurance regarding their credibility and expertise. Reading testimonials or case studies on their websites can also help gauge the experiences of other users.
Finally, it is advisable to review the terms and conditions of the online will service, ensuring that their documents are legally valid and comply with the laws of your jurisdiction.
By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and choose the best online will writer service that meets your requirements.
In our research, we found that it is crucial to consider how bank accounts and personal possessions are managed in a will to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
A well-drafted will should include clear instructions for executors on how to handle various types of bank accounts, such as joint accounts, savings accounts, and investments. It is essential to provide specific information to avoid confusion and potential disputes among beneficiaries.
When it comes to personal possessions, a will should also cover the distribution of valuable items, sentimental objects, and other belongings.
In our experience, addressing these aspects in detail can prevent misunderstandings and ensure the smooth transfer of assets to the intended recipients.
It is essential to update your will regularly, especially when significant life events occur, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child, to ensure your will remains current and reflects your most recent wishes.
When searching for a will-writing service, locating one in your area is essential. A local will-writing service provides several advantages that can make the process more efficient and convenient.
By choosing a service in your area, you can easily schedule face-to-face meetings with a solicitor or will writing professional, allowing you to discuss your personal circumstances and preferences in detail.
In-person consultations can help ensure that your will is tailored to your needs and addresses potential legal issues.
Local will writing services are also more likely to be familiar with the local legal requirements and regulations, ensuring that your will is properly drafted and legally valid.
In addition, using a local will-writing service makes it easier to contact the service provider if you need to make changes to your will or have questions.
This can save time and reduce stress, as you won’t have to travel far or deal with communication delays that may arise when working with a distant service provider.
You can begin your search for a reputable local will writing service by requesting referrals from friends or family members who have had positive experiences with such services.
You can also search online directories or contact local law firms or solicitors’ offices to learn about local options.
Verify that the will-writing service is a member of a recognised trade organisation or is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to ensure that they adhere to professional standards and provide a superior level of service.
We understand that drafting a will can be challenging for those with complex family situations, such as estranged children, blended families, or individuals who need to provide for a disabled family member.
In such cases, it is vital to seek the assistance of a will writing firm or solicitor with experience in handling these unique circumstances. They can help you navigate the intricacies of inheritance laws, parental responsibility, and the establishment of trusts to protect the interests of vulnerable individuals.
When we reviewed different will writing services, we discovered that many providers offer support in managing complex family dynamics.
They can help you create a legally valid will that considers the unique needs of your immediate family, civil partners, or other relatives, ensuring that your estate is distributed fairly and according to your wishes.
In our experience, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to using an online will writing service compared to a local solicitor.
Online will writing services often provide a more convenient and cost-effective solution, allowing you to draft your will at your own time and pace. Additionally, many of these services are regulated by recognised trade bodies, providing you with some legal cover and protection.
However, local solicitors, who are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, can offer more personalized service and are often better equipped to handle complex legal situations or provide additional support when required.
They can also assist with the proper drafting of legal documents, ensuring they meet the necessary requirements for a valid will. In cases involving overseas property or complex family situations, seeking the guidance of a local solicitor may be more suitable to ensure your will is adequately prepared and compliant with inheritance laws.
It is essential to consider your funeral wishes when drafting a will. By specifying your preferences, you can provide your loved ones with guidance and peace of mind during an emotionally challenging time.
In our research, we found that many will writing services and solicitors include clauses to address funeral wishes, ensuring your desires are documented and can be carried out by your executors.
As life unfolds, circumstances change, and it is crucial to update your will accordingly. Changes in relationships, the birth of children, or significant financial shifts may necessitate revisions to your will.
Regularly reviewing and amending your will can help avoid nasty surprises and ensure that your estate is distributed according to your current wishes. Whether you have a simple will or a more complex estate plan, staying proactive in maintaining an up-to-date will can help protect your interests and those of your loved ones.
In the context of registered civil partnerships, civil partners are treated the same as married couples when it comes to inheritance tax.
This means that if one civil partner passes away, their estate can be passed on to the surviving partner without the need to pay inheritance tax.
However, if the estate is passed on to someone other than the civil partner, inheritance tax may apply. In these cases, it makes sense to consult a solicitor to understand the potential tax implications and any additional costs involved.
Mental capacity plays a crucial role in creating a legally binding will. A person must have the mental capacity to understand the consequences of making a will, the extent of their assets, and the claims of those they are including or excluding from their will.
If someone lacks the mental capacity to create a will, any will they create may be challenged and deemed invalid. It’s essential to ensure that a will is professionally drafted and executed to avoid any disputes or complications at a later date.
Dealing with overseas property in a will can be complex, especially when dealing with different inheritance laws and taxes in the country where the property is located.
In complex family situations, such as when there are multiple marriages or children from different relationships, it’s essential to seek professional advice to ensure that your will adequately addresses your wishes and is legally binding.
A solicitor can help navigate the complexities of international inheritance laws and provide guidance on the best way to manage your property overseas.
While it’s possible to create your own will using templates or forms found in stationery shops or online, these DIY options may not offer the same protection as a professionally drafted will, particularly in complex situations.
By working with a solicitor, you can ensure that your will is practice approved, legally binding, and accounts for any unique circumstances you may have. Although solicitor costs can be higher than a DIY option, the peace of mind provided by a professionally drafted will is often worth the investment.
Leaving a bequest to a charity in your will can have a meaningful impact on the cause you care about. In some cases, including charitable bequests in your will can also help reduce the amount of inheritance tax your estate may need to pay.
It’s important to consider how much money you would like to leave to various charities, as well as the impact of these bequests on the probate awards for your other beneficiaries. Consulting with a solicitor can help ensure that your charitable intentions are fulfilled and that your will is properly executed.
When it comes to will writing, individuals may choose to create a single will or two separate wills, depending on their personal circumstances.
A single will typically addresses the distribution of assets for one individual, whereas separate wills are created for each person in a couple. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each option, considering factors such as the nature of the assets, the level of control desired, and the potential for changes in circumstances.
Consulting a legal professional can help you make the best decision for your situation and ensure that your will is legally valid.
Safeguarding your original will is essential to ensure that your wishes are followed upon your passing. It’s important to store the original will in a secure location, such as a safe deposit box, a solicitor’s office, or a recognized trade body’s storage facility.
Make sure to inform your executors of the location of your original will to avoid confusion and make it easily accessible when needed.
You may also want to consider keeping a copy of your will in a separate location for reference purposes.
The process of administering an estate can involve various additional costs, such as probate fees, solicitor fees, and potential tax liabilities.
Being aware of these costs can help you plan and make informed decisions about how your estate will be distributed.
It’s important to consult with a legal professional to gain a clear understanding of these additional costs and ensure that your will is drafted in a way that minimizes any unnecessary expenses for your beneficiaries.
Including bequests to charities in your will can have a significant and lasting impact on the causes you care about most. Many people choose to leave a portion of their estate to charities as a way of giving back and ensuring that their values are carried forward after their passing.
When drafting your will, consider the specific charities you wish to include and how your contributions can make a difference in their work.
A solicitor can help you navigate the process of including charitable bequests in your will and ensure that your intentions are legally documented and carried out as desired.
Will writing services are professional services that assist individuals in drafting a legal document specifying their assets’ disposition upon death. A will may also stipulate how the deceased’s affairs, such as funeral arrangements or the appointment of a guardian for minor children, will be managed after death. Will writing services can provide guidance and assistance in drafting a will that accurately reflects the testator’s wishes and help ensure that the will is legally valid and enforceable.
Using a will writing service can assure that your final wishes will be carried out. Without a valid will, your assets may be distributed by intestate succession laws, which may not reflect your wishes. Additionally, will-writing services can guide on inheritance tax and how to minimise the amount of estate tax owed. In addition, using a will writing service can aid in avoiding common errors that can render a will invalid, such as improper execution or failure to account for all relevant assets.
When selecting a will-writing service, it is essential to consider the provider’s experience and credentials. Consider providers who are members of professional organisations such as the Society of Will Writers or the Institute of Professional Willwriters. These organisations require members to adhere to a code of conduct and maintain high service standards. Consider the cost of the service and whether the provider offers additional services, such as estate planning or assistance with the probate process.
The price of a will-writing service can vary based on the complexity of the individual’s situation and the services rendered. Writing a basic will or employing a simple will-writing service may cost several hundred dollars, whereas more complicated estates may require extensive planning and cost several thousand dollars. Others may charge by the hour. Before hiring a will-writing service, it is essential to understand the associated costs and obtain a detailed quote for the services required.