Making a Will
If you make a Will you can decide what happens to your property and possessions after you die.
If you don't make one, it may cause problems for relatives in the future.
Anyone over the age of 18 (or age 12 in Scotland) can make a Will. This means you can decide what happens to your property and possessions after your death.
Making a Will is important because otherwise your assets – savings, investments or property – will be divided according to legal rules rather than your wishes. This is particularly important in the case of step-children, who will be left out if there is no Will.
It is also a good idea to sign a Power of Attorney at the same time as making a Will.
How to make a will
Although you can write a Will yourself, it's best to speak to a solicitor. This will also help to reduce the possibility of any misunderstandings at a later date.
Things to remember:
- ask how much the service will cost and how much time it will take
- it's a solicitor's responsibility to keep you informed of costs and to give you a clear bill that shows the work done and the amount charged
If needed, ask whether your solicitor will make home or hospital visits.
If you are seriously or terminally ill, the solicitor may ask that your doctor be present at the same time to give an opinion on your capacity to make a Will.
Or the solicitor may ask for a report of your physical and mental health, to prove that you are able to make decisions about your assets.
Alternatively, your solicitor may recommend your doctor acts as a witness to the Will.
If these steps are not taken, your wishes may be contested at a later time.
In your Will you can choose your executors. These are the people who will sort out your finances after your death.
You can decide who will receive your money or a particular item, such as a piece of jewellery. It is also helpful to include your funeral instructions.
Finding a solicitor near you
- Citizens Advice offers free, independent and confidential advice online, by phone or face to face. Call 08444 11 14 44 (England) or 08444 77 20 20 (Wales).
- The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) is the umbrella body for professionals dealing with Trusts and Estates. Call 020 7340 0500 or visit their website to search for a solicitor in your area.
- In England and Wales, use The Law Society database to find a solicitor or contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority on 0970 606 2555.
- In Northern Ireland call The Law Society of Northern Ireland on 028 9023 1614.
- In Scotland call The Law Society of Scotland on 0131 226 7411.
- In Guernsey contact the Guernsey Bar on 01481 812812.
- In Jersey contact The Law Society of Jersey on 01534 613 920.
- In the Isle of Man contact The Isle of Man Law Society on 01624 679232.
Every November some solicitors take part in Will Aid. This means that they will write your Will without charging the normal fee. Instead you are invited to make a voluntary donation which goes to charity.
For further details visit the Will Aid website. You can find your local participating solicitor by calling 0300 0309 558.