Making a will - useful tips
Around 60% of people in the UK have not written a will. You may not want to think about death, but if you die without a will your loved-ones may not inherit your assets in the way you would want them to.
November is Will Aid month. If you go to a solicitor which is taking part in the scheme they will draw up your will for free in the hope that you'll make a donation to one of the Will Aid charities. You also get free will registration so it's stored safely.
How to write a will
- You can go to a solicitor, use a will writer or even buy a do-it-yourself will kit. But if the will is not drawn up correctly it can lead to complications and even mean that the will is null and void.
- If you are co-habiting, if you have a complicated family situation or if you want to make provisions for a dependant, it's a good idea to use a solicitor who will be regulated by the Law Society.
- Will writers tend to be cheaper but the industry isn't regulated by the Law Society. If you are planning to use a will-writer, choose a member of the Institute of Professional Will Writers who will be fully insured and trained.
- Some trade unions, charities and banks may also offer will writing services.
What to include in a will
- A list of everything you own, including property, savings, cars, jewellery, home contents, bank or building society accounts, any shares and insurance policies.
- A list of all you owe - mortgages, hire purchase agreements, loans or credit. Take these lists with you when you see a solicitor or will writer.
- Make a note of people or organisations who you want to benefit from your will.
- Decide who your executors will be - those responsible for sorting out the estate and carrying out your wishes. You can also appoint guardians for any children under 18.
Note on Northern Ireland and Scotland
The rules of intestacy in Northern Ireland are governed by the Administration of Estates Act (Northern Ireland) 1955, and vary slightly from England and Wales in terms of the exact divisions between spouse and children.
The rules on intestacy (or 'succession') are very different in Scotland. Click here for more information.
Need help writing a will? A new BBC Two series may want you!
For a new TV series, Sir Gerry Robinson is travelling the length and breadth of the country, looking for families who need help writing their wills. All families featured will receive free advice from Sir Gerry, and from a top wills lawyer.
Would you like some help with writing your will? Is it something you have been deliberately putting off? Have you got a big family? Maybe you are unsure how to divide things fairly or worried it might cause conflict?
If you'd like to take part in Gerry's Legacy TV series, email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org
with your telephone contact number, and a short paragraph summarising your dilemma.