Making a Will - Organising a Last Will & Testament

Making a Will - Organising a Last Will & Testament

It is estimated that about 50% of people in England and Wales die without a will. Not having a will can cause untold misery for family and friends left behind to sort out your assets. This comes at a time when your family isn’t in the right frame of mind to be dealing with these very important issues.

Making a will is a relatively straightforward and low cost exercise, which if carried out could avoid the pain so many families have to go through.

  • If you know you have a terminal illness then making a will isn’t something that can wait. To avoid any disputes after your death you need to make a will while you are still capable, competent and able to do so independently.
  • You may think you have nothing to leave and so there is no point in making a will. However, if you own property, personal effects such as a stereo, TV or a car this can add up. If you also have life insurance payable on your death then your estate could be worth a considerable amount.
  • Wills aren’t just about money and property. You can also make it clear what funeral arrangements you would like and what you want to happen to your body, for example if you wish your ashes to be scattered somewhere specific. You can also make provision for the future care of children and name guardians. This is the place to make clear any specific arrangements you want carried out after your death.
  • Your money and assets will not pass automatically to your spouse or children. If you don’t leave a will there are laws governing the amount your wife or husband can inherit. For example, in England & Wales, if you are the surviving partner and you have children the estate will be split in the following way.
    • The surviving spouse or civil partner receives personal property (known as chattels), a statutory legacy (what the government allows by law) of £125,000 and an interest for the rest of their life in half of the residue (what is left after legacies, debt payments, funeral expenses and inheritance tax).
    • If the estate is worth less than £125,000 the surviving partner receives it all. If it is more - then the children get the other half of any residue, divided equally.
  • A will does not have to be a complex legal document. Your bank can help you make a will or you can do a DIY will. However, by working with a solicitor you can ensure that there are no problems with your will and it will be effective on your death.
  • Your will should detail all your money, property and possessions. You should state who you want to benefit (beneficiaries) and what they should get. You also need to appoint guardians for children under 18 and get the agreement of executors who will carry out what you have detailed in your will.
  • Executors can be family members, friends, bank managers, solicitors or accountants but consider the matters they may have to deal with before allocating this vital task.

The cost of making a will depends to some extent on how complex the will is but on average a will costs between £100-£300. A small price to pay for knowing your wishes will be carried out correctly. You can find a solicitor in your area who specialises in wills here.

Alternatively you can make a will online at Online Will. The simple way to make your will in a matter of minutes with step-by-step instructions.

More information on making a will is available from the Citizens Advice Bureau