Odds are, you’ve known about death since you were a four-year-old. With all that time to contemplate what comes after the lights go out, have you got your will created yet?
Writing your will can feel almost as morbid as planning your funeral. Yet, getting your ducks in a row before you die will give peace of mind that the right people are getting everything you worked hard for.
There are two things to consider when making a will. First, there are the things you need to get ready before committing your post-mortem wishes to paper, then actually going about getting the legal document made. Here, you can find out:
- How to prepare to write your will.
- Different ways you can write your will.
- What will happen if you don’t create a will.
What do I need to write a will?
Your will is a legally binding document that details where your stuff goes when you’re dead. It’s easy to put off writing one or let one get out of date, meaning the wrong people might end up with your stamp collection.
Before putting pen to paper or handing over a cheque to a solicitor, here are some steps you need to go through:
- Think about what you own. Whether you own a house, business, or car, have savings and investments, even expensive jewellery all needs to be divvied up.
- Consider who you want to get your money. Want your cash to skip a generation and go straight to the grandkids? Not a big fan of your big sister? You need to figure out who’ll get what out of your estate. Charities are also an important thing to think about here.
- Pick some executors. These people will be in charge of carrying out your wishes. You can make it your solicitor, some close friends, or family, and consider backups in case you’re the last one standing.
Once you’ve put some thought into what will go into your document, it’s time to get it written.
How do I get my will written?
You can go about getting your will written in four main ways. It’s not something you want to penny-pinch over; this is your loved ones’ futures you’re planning.
Visit a solicitor
Writing wills is the bread and butter of solicitors, and you can be sure that most offer the service. It’s worth asking your friends and colleagues for recommendations for someone local and reliable.
Complicated estates are best suited to a professional lawyer. When you’ve been divorced, live with a partner unmarried, or have children and step-children with different people, you need to be confident you cover all bases. They’ll generally ask you about all your assets, important people in your life, and how you want to share out your wealth.
You can expect to pay from around £150 and up for a solicitor-written will, getting more expensive the more complicated it gets. They’ll usually store it for free, too. You get peace of mind that your wishes are watertight in the process.
Use a will writing service
Much cheaper than a solicitor, a will writing service can offer at-home, online, or telephone services. They are best used when your estate is uncomplicated, with no international assets, and you only have family heirs.
You should still get walked through the process of breaking down your assets to ensure there are no disputes once you’re dead. You’ll likely pay around £100 for a will writing service, and it’s normal to pay extra to have them store it for you too.
Write your own will
Uncomplicated assets and a single heir are good circumstances to consider writing your own will. You can pick up a will writing pack from good stationers on the high street or online. Having a document template ensures that you cover the basics with the right legal language so that nothing’s left to chance.
Packs to write wills are around £10-30, consider picking up a couple if you and your partner both want to get things planned. Once done, you need two people to watch you sign your will and sign it themselves – this can be done remotely since January 2020.
Charity will writing services
Depending on how much Heartbeat and Poirot you watch of an afternoon, you might have seen adverts for charity will writing. Charities offer free or heavily discounted services to make your will. The hope is that you’ll leave them a donation in your will. Charitable donations are deductible from your estate’s inheritance tax, so it’s worth considering.
Some famous charities such as Cancer Research UK and the Stroke Association offer the service. Contact your favourite charities to see if they can connect you with a solicitor or service.
What happens to my estate when I have no will?
Dying without a will is called intestacy, and it can be a pain for the person left to deal with your affairs. The law is strict when there is no will, and takes time to navigate. The order of inheritance is:
- When you’re married or in a civil partnership with no children, your spouse gets everything.
- When your married or in a civil partnership with kids, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren still around, your spouse gets the first £270k, plus half of the rest. The other half is split between your surviving children equally, or their descendants.
- With no surviving spouse, all your children from all relationships will share everything.
- If all your children are also dead, it will go down to all surviving grandchildren, or great-grandchildren.
- No blood relatives left means your whole estate gets left to the crown.
Creating a will takes away a little bit of the stress from your friends and family after you’re dead. Without anything written down, all your worldly goods could go to an ex you never got round to divorcing, or worse still, to the government!
Be methodical with your will. Think about what you’ve got and who you want to have it before you approach a solicitor, will writing service, charity, or WH Smith’s legal stationery section. Your loved ones will be eternally grateful you did it before you went off to eternity.