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How to write your Will and what to do once it’s written

In a previous blog post we covered the importance of having an up to date Will and what would happen if you don’t have one when you die. This post will look at the different ways you can write your Will depending on your circumstances and requirements.

Having a Will is the only way to ensure your wishes are carried out when you die. Research suggests around 57% of UK adults don’t have an up to date Will. Having a valid, up-to- date Will allows you to:

  • Leave legacy gifts to named family and friends
  • Appoint an Executor or Executors you trust to carry out your wishes
  • If necessary, appoint a guardian for younger children and a trustee to look after their inheritance
  • Leave money to the good causes you support

We’ll be covering three ways you can write your Will and we’ll share with you the benefits of each as we go along.

  1. Solicitors

A quick search online will provide you with a list of local solicitors who will be able to write your Will. It’s always good to get recommendations from friends or family if you can, but many comparison websites or directories now have online reviews you can browse. Pricing will vary depending on your requirements, so it’s good to shop around. You can also find a local solicitor on the Law Society’s database.

Face to face appointments with a solicitor can take up to an hour or so. You’ll be asked some questions about your assets, your family and dependents, and any specific bequests you may have, as well as your funeral and memorial wishes. The solicitor will then draft your Will and ask you to check everything is correct before going on to signing it. Costs vary but may start at around £150.

Many charities offer their supporters the opportunity to write or update their Wills for free via a network of participating local solicitors.  Whilst Gifts in Wills are an important income for charities, there is usually no obligation to leave a legacy if you go down this route. Royal Star & Garter is one of more than 150 charities that offer this service through the National Free Wills Network. Click here for more details.

  1. Will-writing specialist

An online or telephone-based Will-writing specialist is an economical alternative to visiting a solicitor and can cost as little as £80.  One advantage is that they are usually available to help outside of general business hours, many seven days a week, which can be useful to those who work unsociable hours.  

Typically it takes around 15 mins to complete a short questionnaire, either online or by telephone, which is then checked by a Will-writing expert. Once approved, your Will is produced and you’ll need to print it and have it correctly signed and witnessed.  We will look at how to ensure your Will is correctly signed and witnessed later.

There are several specialist organisations offering this service across the UK but not all of them are regulated. It’s best to do your research and choose one that has positive reviews or has come personally recommended if this is the route you wish to take.

Many charities offer free online or telephone Will-writing services to their supporters. Royal Star & Garter offers this service through Farewill which has been voted best-rated on Trustpilot and National Will Writing Firm of the Year four years in a row.

  1. Do-it-Yourself

DIY Wills are legally binding and you can write your Will yourself, but you should get advice if your affairs are not straightforward.

You can purchase Will-writing templates from stationery shops, supermarkets or online providers and you can also download templates online. Do remember that while this is the least expensive option, you won’t receive any guidance in writing your Will this way.  You will still need to get your DIY Will formally witnessed and signed to make it legally valid.

Your Will should also state that it replaces any and all previous Wills – this is called a revocation clause and is usually at the beginning of the Will. This is essential to cancel all previous Wills. 

Unfortunately any mistakes, errors or unclear instructions in your Will can affect how your assets are distributed and this might lead to delays and even costly legal challenges. Royal Star & Garter recommends you consult a solicitor or Will-writing specialist to write your Will.

Signing and witnessing a Will

However you choose to make your Will, it must be signed and witnessed correctly for it to be legally valid in the UK.

You will need to sign, and preferably date, your Will in the presence of two witnesses. In turn they must then sign your Will in your presence.  Your witnesses must not be your spouse or partner, must be over the age of 18, they and their married partners should not be beneficiaries and they cannot be blind or partially sighted.

If you make any changes to your Will you must follow the same signing and witnessing process.

Once signed you will need to store your Will safely and make sure your Executors and/or next of kin knows where to find it in the event of your death. Our handy Will card is a great way of keeping useful information together. Download one here or email us at legacies@starandgarter.org to receive a free card by post.

Storing a Will

There are a number of places you can store your Will:

  • In a safe place in your home
  • With your bank or building society (there may be a fee)
  • If you used a solicitor to write your Will they will usually store it for you for free
  • HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) for a one-off fee of £20

Royal Star & Garter has produced a complimentary Will-writing Guide which you might find useful.  You can download a copy by clicking here or request a paper copy by contacting the Legacy team.

If you have any questions or would like further information you can find out more by contacting the Legacy team at legacies@starandgarter.org or by telephone on 020 8481 7676.

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