3 Ways to Make a Will in the UK
It may surprise you to know that a huge percentage of the UK population die without ever making a last will. Whether it’s the fact that we don’t want to think about our own mortality or that we just never get round to doing it. Dying with no will can cause all sorts of problems for those left behind as they try to sort out financial affairs and decide who gets what. To avoid causing all of this stress, use one of these three main methods to make a will in the UK and get your affairs in order.
1) Do It Yourself
There is nothing to stop you putting pen to paper and simply writing out a set of instructions about how you want your estate to be divided, along with wishes about funerals and gifts to charities or friends. If relationships within the family are good, and your wishes are fairly conventional, then this may be an appropriate method. However, a hand written will is unlikely to stand up in court if challenged, so if there is any chance that this sort of will could cause a family dispute, or that your family is unlikely to respect your wishes, another method would be better.
2) Will Packs
Most large stationers have pre-printed forms which you can then complete, witness, and lodge as your will. The main benefit to this sort of will is the cost, as the packs can be bought for just a few pounds. However, writing a will can be a legal minefield, and any error in the instructions that you lay out or in the way the will was signed and witnessed can lead to it being declared invalid. An invalid will means that the estate is divided according to inheritance law, which may not be the same as your wishes. Also, DIY will packs cannot take into account complex families with step-children or overseas property, and in these cases consulting a lawyer is really the only option.
Having a lawyer draw up your will can cost anything upwards of £100, but often legal firms run promotions whereby they will draw up a will in return for a donation to charity. A lawyer is the best person to draw up a will if your financial affairs are complex, or if you have children from different relationships. They can also advise on more complex aspects of the law such as the best ways to minimize the impact of inheritance tax or how to put money into trust for children. They will also have knowledge of the different types of will available, and can assist you when making choices concerning things like property and power of attorney. Always go to a lawyer whose work is underwritten by the Law Society.
Once you have considered the three main ways of drawing up a will and your individual circumstances, the best course of action should be fairly clear. The worst course of action is to do nothing, as this is the guaranteed way of leaving your family a headache. Ask friends to recommend a good local lawyer who specializes in wills, and make that appointment to get your affairs sorted.