Throughout our lives we gather possessions, property and, hopefully, a bit of money. So, when you die, it is important that you have a will which specifies who will benefit from your estate - if this isn't in place, then the law will decide who gets what.
Writing a will also ensures that you don't pay more inheritance tax than you need to, and can help you specify what goes where, both financially and personally.
Having a valid, legal will is very important.
You can either use a solicitor to write your will, do it yourself, or use a will writing service.
Using a solicitor
Yes, as you might have guessed, this is the most expensive option, but it is also the most legally safe option. Will and probate solicitors are experts in their field, they can produce a will that covers everything you need and is legally watertight.
If you have a complicated estate, such as having lots of benefactors, or if you'll have to pay inheritance tax, this could be the best option for you.
Doing it yourself
Thanks to the wonder of the internet, you can now buy a will template online and write your own – but this comes with some drawbacks.
DIY wills are only really fit for purpose if your estate is really easy. Say you are married with two children and you want your wife or husband to be benefactor, and the children to receive equal shares should your partner die.
When arranging a DIY will, it’s important to follow the rules carefully. You need to make sure that it’s signed, dated and independently witnessed, and that all of your old wills, if you had any, are revoked.
Where DIY will writing becomes tricky is when the estate is worth a fair amount of money and issues, such as inheritance tax, come into play. It is then that you should consider going to an expert.
Will writing service
Cheaper than a solicitor, a will writing service is a company or person who can produce your will, but who doesn’t have to be legally qualified or have appropriate insurance, and the industry isn't regulated. So, it's very important that if you do use a will writer, that you use one who is a member of the Institute of Professional Will Writers or the Will Writers Guild. If a mistake is made on your will, you won't have any grounds to complain if they aren't a member of a professional body, as you would if you used a solicitor.
Will writers are cheaper than solicitors and there are many professional companies out there, just be aware of their qualifications and any trade bodies they are members of before making your choice.
There are also charities that will offer free will writing services for a donation, mostly only available to those over 55 and only in some areas. But if money is tight, it is worth doing some research on what they can offer.
Writing a will can be simple and pretty painless, but it is important to ensure that any wealth and property that you have built up over your lifetime goes to your nearest and dearest. Writing it with your spouse or partner, if you have one, also makes things easier as you can then mirror each other's will - that is, if you both have the same wishes upon your death.
However you choose to write your will, the important thing is simply to have one – so that no matter what, you can ensure that your loved ones are looked after and that your estate is in safe hands.