Find out how to draught a will, how much it will cost and where you can put it

How do I make a will?

A will can be made on any sheet of paper and follow any format, provided it is signed by you and witnessed as needed by the law.

But an invalid will, or one with conflicting instructions, might be challenged in court. This can cause family dispute, and inflict the stress and expense of a lawsuit on your loved ones.

We explain how to make a will that’s legally-binding, and how much you could expect to spend.

If you’re intending to make a will, you can choose whether to do it yourself or seek aid from a professional. The ideal solution for you depends depend on how complex your affairs are, and how much support you’re likely to require. We discuss your alternatives for doing-it-yourself, using a solicitor, or hiring a will-writing service below.

Are you making a will?

If you want support, you can make your will and have it evaluated by Which? Wills, and through 30th April you get 30 percent off.
Do I need witnesses to my will?

The original version of the will must be signed by you, your witnesses, and free from errors or alterations.

The witnesses must watch you sign the will in person. Your will runs the danger of being declared void if even one of these witnesses is absent when you sign it.

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, you are required to have two witnesses who are over the age of 18, however in Scotland, you just need one witness who is over the age of 16.

Even though they can be appointed as executors, witnesses are not allowed to inherit anything in their own right as beneficiaries. If your will leaves any part of its execution to a witness, the will as a whole might not be legitimate.

In the event that your witnesses are unable to attend in person – perhaps because you choose to live an isolated lifestyle – the will can now still be observed via video call as a result of recent legislative changes. However, video-witnessing is not without its risks, which is why we continue to advocate having your will witnessed in the traditional manner whenever it is feasible to do so.

The process of selecting an executor

People you appoint in your will to carry out your wishes in accordance with the terms of the will are called executors.

It is in everyone’s best interest to designate more than one executor (or one executor and a substitute). These can be anyone you put your faith in, but it’s typical to choose a friend, relative, or lawyer as these people.

Because solicitors’ fees can range from the hundreds to the thousands of pounds, it is usually in your best interest to entrust the administration of your estate to a trusted friend or member of your own family. In the event that your executor requires assistance from a professional in the end, they might hire probate services.

Beneficiaries of your estate, including executors, can also inherit from it, unless they are also witnesses to the will.

What responsibilities do executors and witnesses have?

 

Witnesses Executors  

Beneficiaries

Are we eligible to inherit from your estate? No Yes Yes
Are you able to serve as my executor? Yes Yes Yes
Are there any witnesses to your will? Yes Yes No
Will your presence be required when the will is signed? Yes No No
Do you have to be older than 18 to buy alcohol in England and Wales? Yes Yes No

 

What am I able to leave behind in my will?

Your will can address a wide range of issues, including who will inherit your property and who will take care of your children and other dependents when you pass away.

Before you sit down to write your will, it is important to make a list of all of your assets, as well as any sentimental objects that you would like to bequeath to your loved ones.

In addition to this, you should make plans for the care of your children and decide whether or not you would like to leave particular instructions about your funeral.

You can learn more by reading our advice, which is titled “What to Put in Your Will.”

Include a gift in lieu of residuals.

There is sure to be a portion of your assets that isn’t accounted for, regardless of how detailed and comprehensive your will is.

As such, it ought to include a “residuary gift,” which specifies who would inherit whatever that is not otherwise given away by the will. In other words, it should outline who will get the “residue.”

This clause may also come in handy in the event that one of the heirs you name passes away before you do, for instance.

In the event that the will does not include a residuary gift, the remaining assets of the estate will be distributed in accordance with the laws that govern the distribution of assets in the event that no will is present.

Stay away from arguments against the legitimacy.

In the paper that you sign, there should not be anything that has been changed or crossed out.

If you decide at a later time that you would like to make changes to your will, you will either need to create a new will or a codicil. A codicil is an additional document that is signed and witnessed in the same manner as your will, and it details any changes that you would like to make to your will (though not necessarily by the same people).

Since you won’t be there to defend your decisions or provide further clarification, the directions you leave should be as clear and concise as possible.

During the process of putting together the document, make sure there are no blank spots and that each page is numbered to prevent anyone from tampering with your will.

Make use of our wills planner instrument.

Before you sit down to write a will, you should give some thought to who you want to inherit your most valuable assets and what additional provisions you would like to make for your estate.

Using our wills planner tool, you may lay out your will, including who will serve as executors and beneficiaries of your estate.

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How much does it cost to have a will drawn up?

The cost of a straightforward will can range anywhere from roughly £80 to several hundred pounds, regardless of whether you go to a bank, an attorney, or a will writer.

If you and your spouse or partner want wills that are substantially identical to one another, sometimes known as mirror wills, you will typically receive a discount for creating both wills at the same time.

The price of your will increases up if it contains any specialised provisions, such as a trust, for example. You should plan on spending at least £500 to £600 at the very least.

It is recommended that you look for a few different quotes. Ask yourself why one company’s prices are significantly lower or higher than those of the others if you find that they are significantly different.

Are you interested in reducing the fees associated with preparing your will? Check out our walkthrough on creating a will at no cost to you.
Do-it-yourself wills, also known as DIY wills.

When it comes to drafting a will, many individuals opt to do it on their own rather than seek the advice of a legal professional.

Having said that, it is quite easy to make a mistake that could render your will invalid or unclear. For this reason, it is a good idea to seek the opinion of a professional if the circumstances surrounding your will are particularly complicated. You also have the option of writing the will on your own and then having it reviewed by a professional; the cost of this service is typically lower.

Should you choose to draught your own will, it is essential that the document be properly witnessed and that all of your significant assets be included in it.

Our Wills gives you the option to draught your own will and then have it examined by a panel of legal professionals.

Engaging the services of a lawyer to draught your will

You might have a solicitor create the document for you and check that it is in order before submitting it.

This will be the most expensive choice, but it may reduce the inheritance tax payment that your family owes and will definitely bring piece of mind.

You and your attorney can talk about exactly what you want the will to accomplish and how to steer clear of any uncertainties in the process.

If any of the following situations apply to you, you should seriously consider getting legal representation:

It is likely that your estate will be required to pay inheritance tax.
Your family’s situation is complicated for a number of reasons: perhaps you have ex-spouses or children from a previous marriage; perhaps you have a family member or friend who has special needs and you want to make sure they are protected after you pass away; perhaps you have assets that could be subject to complex rules, such as property located in another country; or perhaps you have all of these things.

A solicitor will not only draught the will for you, but they will also often preserve it for you free of charge.

You or your dependents will have the ability to claim compensation if there are issues with the will because solicitors are qualified professionals who are also regulated. Where you live determines which regulatory agencies apply to you:

England and Wales fall under the jurisdiction of the Solicitors Regulation Authority Scotland falls under the jurisdiction of the Scottish Law Society
The Northern Ireland Law Society represents the jurisdiction of Northern Ireland.

If you want a lawyer to draught your will for you, you should budget several hundred pounds for the service. The precise amount of cost will be based on how complicated your situation is.

If your estate is particularly complicated, a competent attorney may be able to advise you to think about putting some of your assets into trust. Will trusts have the potential to dramatically reduce the inheritance tax bill of an estate, despite the fact that the legal fees associated with the case are likely to be greater.

Learn more about inheritance tax, including the applicable criteria, rates, and payers here.

Utilizing the services of a will-writing company

You might want to think about employing a will-writing service if you don’t want to spend the money on a lawyer but you still want some advice and direction.

You will receive more assistance than if you did it on your own, and it is possible that it may be less expensive than hiring a lawyer. If your situation is not very complicated, you may be able to handle it on your own; but, for more complicated matters, you may need the assistance of a lawyer.

Will-writers might fall into two categories: qualified and unregulated. Make sure the will-writer you hire is accredited either by an industry-specific regulating body or by an individual who is themselves regulated, such as a licenced solicitor.

Be wary of free will-writing services or companies that, after your death, name themselves as executors of your will. When it comes to the administration of your estate, your estate is going to face astronomical legal bills in most cases down the road.

The costs associated with will-writing services begin at about £80 and can go up to several hundred pounds, depending on the intricacy of your estate and the level of experience offered by the business.

Our Wills provides a will-writing service to assist you in navigating the process of creating a will.
utilising the will-writing service offered by a bank

Will-writing services are something that you can typically find offered by banks. These services frequently cost less than one hundred dollars or are even free, but you can find out afterwards that you paid an exorbitant amount in hidden fees.

It is also crucial to search for clauses that allow the firm that wrote your will the ability to handle your estate and charge fees for doing so.

To act as the sole or joint executor of an estate, you may be required to pay a significant percentage of the estate (say 5 percent), even if the estate in question is reasonably uncomplicated. Even if the estate is fairly uncomplicated or if the majority of the probate work is done by someone else, you will still be responsible for paying these fees.

If the will writing service offered by your bank does not enable you to select your own executor, you should probably look for one offered by another institution.

Where should I keep my last will and testament?

After the will has been drafted, the next step is to determine where it will be kept. You can choose from a number of different possibilities, based on what you want. No matter whatever option you go with, it is absolutely necessary to ensure that it is kept in a safe and secure location. It will be necessary for your executor(s) to locate it when the time comes, so make sure that you inform them of its location.

If you go with a lawyer, a company that stores wills, or even your own bank, make sure you ask if there are any costs associated with accessing the will to make changes or with the executor of the will after you die away.

Using a legal representative

If you make your will through most solicitors, the storage of your will is typically free of charge. Will writers typically ask for payment on a one-time or yearly basis.

Even if a solicitor wasn’t involved in the writing of your will, they can still be happy to store it for you for a little fee. This cost might be a one-time charge when you make the deposit, or it might be a yearly charge while they are keeping it.

Using the resources of your bank

There are financial institutions that provide a will storage service for a nominal fee.

However, a safe deposit box is not the place for you to store your will at any time.

If you do that, the executor might find themselves in a catch-22 situation, in which they can’t access the safe deposit box because they don’t have probate, but they also can’t obtain probate because the will is in the safe deposit box. If you do that, the executor might find themselves in a situation in which they can’t access the safe deposit box because they don’t have probate.

Utilizing the services of a wills storage company

Companies that store wills look after clients’ documents in a way analogous to that of solicitors. The majority of will-writing services need monthly or annual subscription payments in addition to supplementary costs for modifying existing wills.

A storage service for wills is available at a cost of £25 per year. Your will will be kept in a location that is both safe and secure, and you will have access to it at any time you see fit. There is also the opportunity to receive telephone support from our specialists on wills, and there is also the possibility to give your executor or executors specifics regarding where it is being maintained.

When at home

You have the option of storing your will at home, which will allow you to avoid incurring the cost of using a storage service.

Your will ought to be stored in a secure location, one in which its loss or destruction is highly improbable.

If you choose this option, make sure your executors know where to look and can access it – for example, if it’s in your safe, your executor will need to know the combination.