It is possible to write a Will yourself but it is advisable to get professional legal advice to ensure that you fully understand what you should be considering when you make a Will. Our trusted legal partners, Law and Life have prepared the following guidance for you. You can call them with any questions, on 0800 999 4437
Things to consider before making a Will
1.What will you say in your Will?
Give some thought to the contents of your Will.
Compile a list of your possessions including property, cars, jewellery, home contents, bank or building society accounts, shares and life insurance and pensions with death in service payments and any other investments you hold.
You may find our ‘What are your Assets and what is their Value’ helpful in working this out. (pdf)
You should also name your beneficiaries and choose a legal guardian for any of your children who are under 18 years of age. You then need to think about whether you wish to leave any specific gifts to individuals and who you want the rest of your estate to go to – this is called the ‘residuary estate’. You may find the checklist below helpful.
2. Who will be your executor?
A key element in making a Will is appointing your executor(s). This is the person who will deal with your assets and pay any liabilities you may have at the time of your death from your estate.
Executors are often unpaid friends or family members, typically a spouse or partner, but they can also be paid professionals such as solicitors or a bank.
Before appointing your executors you should check with them to ensure they are agreeable to you appointing them in your will and, if they are friends and family, you should ensure they understand they know what it entails.
3.Choose a legal guardian for any of your children who are under 18 years of age.
4. Ensure you make provision for what will happen to your pets when you die.
Will they be looked after by family, friend or a charitable organisation such as the RSPCA who offer a pet registration scheme ’Home for Life’ to ensure your beloved pets are not left homeless when you die.
5. Ensuring your Will is valid
This can be the tricky part and if it is not correctly signed and witnessed it will be invalid.
For a Will to be valid, the document must be signed by the person making the Will (the testator), in the presence of two witnesses who will then sign the will as a witness in the presence of the person making the Will.
A Will can be signed on the testator's behalf in his or her presence and by his or her direction. This must also be done in the presence of two witnesses who then sign the Will as a witness in the presence of the person making the Will (the testator). You should take advice from a legal professional is you are asking someone to sign on your behalf.
6. Who can be a witness to a Will?
Anyone who is capable of understanding the nature and effect of what they are doing and is not blind, may act as a witness. However, the witness should not be a beneficiary of the Will or married to, or be the civil partner of, a beneficiary named in the Will. In these circumstances the Will remains a valid and legal document, but the gift to the beneficiary cannot be paid.
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