Drafting and updating your Will

Writing a Will can be quick and easy if you use an expert Will writing solicitor. You can also write your Will yourself using online templates, but the process can be more complex, and you need to ensure that you have done it right, as your Will may otherwise be invalid.

In general, when you get started writing, you will need to think about the following factors:

  • The value of your total estate, including how much money you have in the bank and in pension funds, your property and/or land and investments
  • Who you would like to inherit which of your assets, for example, you can allow people a percentage of your assets, or assign specific assets to specific people?
  • Who will look after your children while they are under 18 years old?
  • Who you want to appoint as Executors of your Will after you pass away?
  • If you want to leave any part of your estate to a charity

It may be difficult to know what exactly to include when you are drafting your Will, which is why people with larger estates will generally benefit from using the support of a Will writing professional.

The legality of Wills

There are a variety of ways that you can get a Will written. It is possible to write your own Will using free online templates or paid online services, but it may not meet the criteria laid down in the Wills Act 1837. If your Will is not considered legal or valid, your wishes may not be carried out.

Your Will is only legal if:

  • You are 18 or over,
  • Write the Will voluntarily,
  • Are of sound mind when the Will is written,
  • Sign the Will in the presence of two witnesses who are over 18, and
  • Have your two witnesses sign it in your presence.

Where your family set up is more complex it becomes more important to have a Will in place. For example, if you:

  • Are a cohabiting couple but you have not yet, or will never marry?
  • Have an ex-partner or spouse you wish will inherit
  • Have any stepchildren or grand children
  • Own a business, or several businesses either with a partner or by yourself
  • If you own property or businesses abroad

If you are not married but you have been cohabiting with your partner, even if you own property together, and there is no Will in place, your partner will not automatically inherit anything. They may be forced to sell the property you owned together, and they may not remain able to live in the property if they are not on the title deeds, even if they put money towards the mortgage.

Intestacy rules

If you pass away without a Will in place, intestacy rules will apply. These rules are very strict and can generally not be challenged.

If there are no living relatives to inherit the estate, it will pass to the Crown, and Her Majesty’s Treasury will become responsible for the estate.

Those who can inherit under the intestacy rules, when someone has died without leaving a Will include married and civil partners, informally separated partners and children. In some cases also parents, siblings, nieces and nephews may inherit, but it depends on the circumstances. You can not inherit as a divorced partner, a cohabiting partner, or unmarried partner, close friends and carers.