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Making a will is important if you want to make sure your wishes will be met after you die.

It can be difficult to talk about, but in the event of your death it will ensure that your estate goes to the people you care about.

Wills can also stop family arguments, removing additional stress at an already difficult time for the people closest to you.

If you don’t make a will, your estate will be divided according to the law. Your family will have no control over who inherits your money and assets. This could mean they go to someone you hadn't intended them to. The people or charities that you care about may end up missing out.

There are several different ways you can make a legally-valid will (a will recognised by the law):

  • you can make your own
  • hire a professional will-writer
  • hire a solicitor
  • ask certain charities to help 
  • use a will-writing service (which some banks offer).

Most will writing services come at a cost. It's important to find out what the fees are in advance as some can be expensive.

Your will is a legal document and it is very important that you seek advice when creating one.

When writing your will, be very clear about what you want to happen with your estate.

Divide up your estate by stating who will receive what money, assets (such as a house) or specific items (such as heirlooms or sentimental jewellery).

You can leave money to charities in your will if you choose. You can also say what should happen if any beneficiaries (people or organisations you have chosen to receive part of your estate) die before you do.

You must sign your will in the presence of 2 independent witnesses, who must also sign it in your presence. If the will is signed incorrectly, it will not be valid. If any beneficiaries act as a witness, they will not be able to inherit. You should not have any beneficiaries in the room when the will is signed.

Make sure to review your will at least every 5 years, and after any major change in your life, such as a marriage or divorce, having a child, or moving house.

When planning your will, it's a good idea to list your assets and debts. This gives you a clear picture of the value of your estate and will help you decide how to distribute it.

Assets include your home and other property you own, financial savings and investments, and items such as vehicles, jewellery and personal belongings.

Debts include mortgages, credit card balances, loans and suchlike. You should have your assets valued regularly, as the price of things can frequently change.

Your estate is everything you own, including:

  • your money and savings
  • any properties you own
  • all your personal possessions
  • any investments.
Last updated: 06/03/2023