- According to research, a large number of UK adults haven't yet made a will
- By not specifying how people want their assets distributed after death, the majority will have their estates passed on according to intestacy law, which may not reflect their wishes at all
- Using a solicitor to write your will gives you peace of mind that everything's taken care of
In 2015, financial adviser website Unbiased published results from its annual poll, which found that over half (58%) of adults in the UK don’t have a will.
The research revealed that younger people are the least prepared; 87% of 20-29 year olds didn’t have a will, while nearly three-quarters (76%) of those in their thirties hadn’t sorted a will either.
17% of people claimed they weren’t wealthy enough to need to will, despite an increasing number of under-40s owning their own property – one of the most valuable assets you can bequeath to loved ones.
Making a will is important if you want to make sure your wishes are followed after your death. There are a number of ways to approach writing a will.
The easiest way to make your will: use a solicitor
If you don’t know where to start and need some professional help, consider using a solicitor to write your will.
Using a professional legal service for your will has a number of benefits:
You’re properly protected if something goes wrong as solicitors are regulated by the Legal Ombudsman;
Using a solicitor will minimise the risk of your will being invalid or not being completed, signed and witnessed correctly;
Solicitors know the law – so will be best placed to advise on how to handle inheritance tax and trusts;
A solicitor’s firm will also be able to store your will securely, as part of the service.
Although it’s appealing to write your own will because it’s the cheapest option, if anything goes wrong, you’ve made mistakes or the wording is unclear, it could cause big problems for your family and friends after you’ve passed away.
Should the worst happen, the state may even find your will to be invalid and your estate will be shared with whomever the law sees fit.
Other options for writing a will
Will writers can work with you in person, by post or online to help you put together your will.
However, there are limitations to what a will writing service can provide. They won’t be able to deal with your more complex wishes and they may not be able to store your will securely. More importantly, will writing services aren’t regulated in the same way as solicitors so you won’t have the same protection if something goes wrong.
If you do decide to go down this route, make sure you check the company you use belongs to a recognised organisation, like The Society of Will Writers.
Write your own will
In reality, you could write your will on the back of a till receipt and it would be legally binding, provided that it was signed and witnessed by two independent adult witnesses who are present at the time you sign your will.
But beware; DIY wills have their limitations and are best used for when your wishes are very simple. Wording can be ambiguous and interpreted incorrectly, so if your wishes aren’t straightforward, your will may not be followed as you had intended.
If you’re going to write your own will, you might prefer to buy a will writing template or pack online or from a stationery shop.
Bear in mind though that if you make any mistakes, the company who designed the pack won’t take any responsibility for your will being correctly written out.