How to make a will

First, you should list what you have in your estate. Think about property, savings, shares, life policies, antiques, jewellery and pensions.

You should then decide how your estate is to be shared between your beneficiaries. You also need to think about what happens if any of your beneficiaries die before you; who will look after your children (guardians); who should carry out the wishes contained in your will (your executors) any other wishes you may have, for example whether you want to be buried or cremated.

Why use a solicitor?

Trying to make your own will, without legal assistance, can lead to mistakes or lack of clarity and could mean that your will is invalid. If you have a number of beneficiaries and your finances are complicated, it is even more important that you get a professionally trained solicitor to prepare your will. Ideally the solicitor should be a member of STEP.

Some common mistakes in making a will are:

  • not being aware of the formal requirements needed to make a will legally valid;
  • failing to take account of all the money and property available;
  • failing to take account of the possibility that a beneficiary may die before the person making the will;
  • changing an existing will;
  • being unaware of the effect of marriage, a registered civil partnership, divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership on a will; &
  • being unaware of the rules which exist to enable dependents to claim from the estate if they believe they are not adequately provided for. These rules mean that the provisions in the will could be overturned.

There are some circumstances when it is recommended to use a solicitor. These are where:

  • you share a property with someone who is not your husband, wife or civil partner;
  • you wish to make provision for a dependent who is unable to care for themselves;
  • there are several family members who may make a claim on the will, for example, a second wife or children from a first marriage;
  • your permanent home is not in the United Kingdom;
  • you are resident here but there is overseas property involved; &
  • there is a business involved.

You also have the peace of mind that should something go wrong a solicitor is fully regulated and insured.

For anything further, one of our specialists would be delighted to meet you either in our office or in your own home to talk through your requirements and answer any questions. Please contact us at any time.