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Making a will

Reasons for making a will

The greatest reason for making a will is that it will ensure that your wishes are taken care of. If you want your money to go to your loved ones in a certain way after you die, this will be achieved if you make a valid will.

Though a surprising number of people of all ages have not yet made a will, it is likely that many of them have not thought through the consequences of dying without having made one. This is called dying intestate and means that their estate will be divided amongst their family in accordance with the law. However, this only applies to spouses or blood relatives, so anybody else will not be entitled to a penny. Also, of course dividing it up by the law does not take into account any wishes you might have regarding how you would like the assets shared out. For these reasons alone, making a will is a good idea.

How to go about it: major points

  1. It is certainly possible to complete the will yourself without any legal help; however it is a good idea to get assistance of some kind. There is always the possibility of making a mistake and with the will being such an important document, it is vital to try and make sure it stands as a valid will. If you are doing it yourself, try and make sure it is completely accurate, without any mistakes. It also, of course, has to be signed and witnessed.
  2. If you do get legal help, they can assist you in its preparation and will normally store it for you free of charge. Solicitors also have the advantage of being regulated and in England and Wales, via the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
  3. Some also use will writers but unlike solicitors they do not have to be qualified or regulated. Those going down this route should always go for one which is part of a recognised trade body, such as the Institute of Professional Willwriters, which have a code of practice in place as well as insurance. Some also use banks to make a will and, as with will writers they may offer to perform the role of being a sole or joint executor. It is best to avoid this and place the responsibilities of the executor on a lay person. Using a bank or a will writer for this purpose is likely to mean them doing so for a percentage of the estate.
  4. Online will writing services are another alternative which are seen as attractive because of their speed and convenience. However, again it is right to be cautious about this service because you should be wary about any legal guidance you get from these sources. Make sure the person you are dealing with is a qualified solicitor.

Cost and storage

The cost of making a will varies depending on whether you consult a solicitor, a will writer, a bank or do it yourself. They generally vary from £80 going up to several hundred pounds, though these tend to be more specialised ones.

On storage, if you have gone with a law firm or a bank, they will usually have storage arrangements though a will writer may charge a one-off or annual fee.