Tips on Making A Will

Everyone over 18 should make a will even if they have little to leave. Failing to make a will can cause unforeseen problems and leads to a famous solicitors toast ‘ To the people who don’t write a will’.

If you die intestate (that is without leaving a valid will) your estate will be divided up according the rules of law not your wishes (or even logic). Sorting out an intestate’s estate can incur extra cost, time and effort for those left behind who have to sort it out.

DIY Wills

You can write your will on plain paper, sign it and get your signature witnessed by two people. Witnesses should have nothing left to them in the will and must record their name address and occupation but do not need to see the content of the will only witness the signature. A better alternative is to use a cheap pre printed will form available from most stationers. Such forms have sections that help guide you through the format.

In Scotland you can handwrite and sign your own will, known as a holograph, and whilst it doesn’t need witnessing most people get two non beneficiaries to witness their signature.

DIY wills are only successful in simple circumstance and there is a danger of getting it wrong and ending up with something you didn’t intend.

Professional Wills

There are solicitors, banks and professional will-writing firms who can guide you and produce a will designed to deliver what you want. They are also clued up on inheritance tax, the rights of wives and children etc and from previous experience be able to guide you.

Get a quote of the cost beforehand. Go to the meeting prepared with a clear idea of; what you own (your estate), what you want to leave to whom (your beneficiaries), what you want to happen if you die with other members of the family. You will also need to name an executor(s) often a close friend or relative and/or a solicitor or bank who will charge for their services.

If you have children you can outline your wishes as to guardians and where you want them to live but final decisions will be taken in the interests of the children. You cannot totally disinherit those who are financially dependant on you, if they challenge the will the courts will decide what they get.

Make Life Easy for Executors

  • If you marry, divorce or remarry write a new will as the old will will be invalid.
  • Leave a detailed note about what you own, where it is and note on how to find it.
  • You can leave a letter with your will to help guide your executors although instructions are not mandatory. If your assets have changed you can leave a codicil to your will that vary the terms without having to rewrite the whole will.
  • Make your will in the country where you live (the law is different in Scotland to England for example) but take care about foreign owned assets.


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