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How to make a Will

Having taken  the decision to make a Will the next step will be to decide whether you are confident enough to write it yourself or would prefer to have professional help.  

These days there are a number of options available:- such as DIY Wills, Will writing packs, online Will writing services or using a Solicitor.

DIY Wills

This is of course the Do It Yourself Will and really all you need is pen and paper! 

 It is certainly possible to write your own Will  and it is estimated that about 20% of people in Britain write their own wills,  but there is always the risk that when drafting a legal document errors and/or omissions can invalidate it.

 If you are at all unsure it is recommended to seek professional help as mistakes in this area can be costly. 

 If you do decide to write your own Will it will be helpful consider the following points.

For the Will to be valid: 

  • The Testator must be at least eighteen years old and of ‘sound mind'. (If however you are under eighteen and on active service in the armed forces you can write a valid Will).

  • The Will must be written – either hand written or typed. If your handwriting is unclear it may be better to word process the document.   It is preferable to use good quality blank paper as the document may need to last many years.        

  • The Will should be signed by the Testator and two witnesses who are not beneficiaries.

What else should I consider? 

Try to keep the meaning clear and simple and to avoid using legal jargon if you are at all unsure of the meaning.

It is vitally important to avoid  being ambiguous in the Will - e.g.   if you wish to give all your money to someone does that actually include everything you own or only the cash?

How should I format the Will? 

The Will should clearly state: 

  • Your name and address.

  • Declaration clause stating the document is your Last Will and Testament.

  • Clause revoking all previous Wills (unless you have foreign property covered in a Will abroad)

  • Names and addresses of Executors.

  • Appointment of any Trustees or Guardians.

  • How the estate is to be divided between the Beneficiaries.

  • Who has responsibility for any pets or animals.

  • Directions regarding funeral arrangements.

  • An Attestation clause before the signatures.

Finally the Testator and two witnesses should sign the Will at the end of the document.  This ensures that nothing else can be added. 

Witnesses

 It should be noted that witnesses or their spouses cannot be Beneficiaries.  It is also inadvisable for an Executor to be a witness as it will be difficult should they wish to claim expenses for administering the estate.

 Although it is not a legal requirement it is a good idea for the witnesses to print their names next to their signatures and also ad their addresses - as this would make them easier to trace should a long time elapse before the Will is read.

 

Will writing packs

These can be purchased from most good stationary shops or ordered on the internet.  Packs contain all necessary  forms and templates and general advice but this may only be suitable for you if your circumstances are straightforward.  

One obvious advantage of using this method is the cost which is currently less than £15. 

Again the disadvantage is the possibility of errors occurring which could cause problems for the beneficiaries and in some cases invalidate the Will.  

 

Online Will writing service

There are several companies which advertise a Will writing service.  

It is advisable to check that the company you are considering is a member of The Institute of Professional Will Writers or the Society of Will Writers as their members are covered by Professional Indemnity Insurance. 

Although these companies offer a professional Will writing service it does not mean that they are experts in the field of Inheritance Tax and it is worth being aware of this when signing up. 

The current charge for the service is around £40.  

 

Using a Solicitor 

This is still the most reliable way of ensuring you have a valid and legal document.   

Solicitors often offer a free initial consultation and it is usually necessary to visit at least twice depending on the detail and complexity of your requirements.  It is therefore a good idea to go with a clear idea of what you would like to include in your Will.

 The usual fee for drafting a Will is upwards from £100.

 

Storing Your Will

A Will can really be kept and stored in any safe place in your home e.g. a safe or filing cabinet although some people choose pay their Bank a small fee to in return for the safe keeping of their Will. 

 If a Solicitor has drafted your Will they will store it at their premises for you free of charge and ou will be provided with a copy.

 
 

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