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Why is it important to make a will?

By Jules Mortimer
Why is it important to make a will? It is important for you to make a will whether or not you consider you have many possessions or much money. It is important to make a will because: if you die without a will, there are certain rules which dictate how the money, property or possessions […]

Why is it important to make a will?

It is important for you to make a will whether or not you consider you have many possessions or much money. It is important to make a will because:

  • if you die without a will, there are certain rules which dictate how the money, property or possessions should be allocated. This may not be the way that you would have wished your money and possessions to be distributed
  • unmarried partners and partners who have not registered a civil partnership cannot inherit from each other unless there is a will, so the death of one partner may create serious financial problems for the remaining partner
  • if you have children, you will need to make a will so that arrangements for the children can be made if either one or both parents die
  • it may be possible to reduce the amount of tax payable on the inheritance if advice is taken in advance and a will is made
  • if your circumstances have changed, it is important that you make a will to ensure that your money and possessions are distributed according to your wishes. For example, if you have separated and your ex-partner now lives with someone else, you may want to change your will. If you are married or enter into a registered civil partnership, this will make any previous will you have made invalid

If you are in any doubt as to whether or not you should make a will you should seek professional advice – we offer a free half hour consultation

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Should you use a professional Will writer?

It is always advisable to use a solicitor or to have a solicitor check a will you have drawn up to make sure it will have the effect you want. This is because it is easy to make mistakes and, if there are errors in the will, this can cause problems after your death. Sorting out misunderstandings and disputes after your death may result in considerable legal costs, which will reduce the amount of money in the estate.

A professional will writer will charge for their services in drawing up or checking a will. They should give you the best possible information about the cost of their services. They should give you this at the beginning of their work with you.

Some common mistakes in making a will are:

  • not being aware of the formal requirements needed to make a will legally valid
  • failing to take account of all the money and property available
  • failing to take account of the possibility that a beneficiary may die before the person making the will
  • changing the will. If these alterations are not signed and witnessed, they are invalid
  • being unaware of the effect of marriage, a registered civil partnership, divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership on a will
  • being unaware of the rules which exist to enable dependants to claim from the estate if they believe they are not adequately provided for. These rules mean that the provisions in the will could be overturned

When it is always advisable to use a professional Will writer

There are some circumstances when it is particularly advisable to use a solicitor. These are where:

  • you share a property with someone who is not your husband, wife or civil partner
  • you wish to make provision for a dependant who is unable to care for themselves
  • there are several family members who may make a claim on the will, for example, a second wife or children from a first marriage
  • your permanent home is not in the United Kingdom
  • you are resident here but there is overseas property involved
  • there is a business involved

How much does a Will cost?

We can guide you through the process of drawing up your will and put it in place for:

Single Will £125.00

Mirror Wills £250.00

What should be included in a Will

To save time and reduce costs when going to a solicitor, you should give some thought to the major points which you want included in your will. You should consider such things as:

  • how much money and what property and possessions you have, for example, property, savings, occupational and personal pensions, insurance policies, bank and building society accounts, shares
  • who you want to benefit from your will. You should make a list of all the people to whom you wish to leave money or possessions. These people are known as beneficiaries. You also need to consider whether you wish to leave any money to charity
  • who should look after any children under 18
  • who is going to sort out the estate and carry out your wishes as set out in the will. These people are known as the executors

Who are Executors

Executors are the people who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes and for sorting out the estate.

They will have to collect together all the assets of the estate, deal with all the paperwork and pay all the debts, taxes, funeral and administration costs out of money in the estate.

They will need to pay out the gifts and transfer any property to beneficiaries.

It is not necessary to appoint more than 1 executor although it is advisable to do so – for example, in case one of them dies.

It is common to appoint 2, but up to 4 executors can take on responsibility for administering the will after a death.

The people most commonly appointed as executors are:

  • relatives or friends
  • solicitors or accountants
  • banks
  • the Public Trustee or in some cases the Official Solicitor if there is no one else willing and able to act

It is important to choose executors with considerable care since their job involves a great deal of work and responsibility.

You should always approach anyone you are thinking of appointing as an executor to see if they will agree to take on the responsibility. If someone is appointed who is not willing to be an executor, they have a right to refuse.

If an executor dies, any other surviving executor(s) can deal with the estate. If there are no surviving executors, legal advice should be sought.

Requirements for a valid will

In order for a will to be valid, it must be:

  • made by a person who is 18 years old or over and
  • made voluntarily and without pressure from any other person and
  • made by a person who is of sound mind. This means the person must be fully aware of the nature of the document being written or signed and aware of the property and the identify of the people who may inherit and
  • in writing and
  • signed by the person making the will in the presence of two witnesses and
  • signed by the two witnesses, in the presence of the person making the will, after it has been signed.

A witness or the married partner of a witness cannot benefit from a will. If a witness is a beneficiary (or the married partner or civil partner of a beneficiary), the will is still valid but the beneficiary will not be able to inherit under the will.

Although it will be legally valid even if it is not dated, it is advisable to ensure that the will also includes the date on which it is signed.

As soon as the will is signed and witnessed, it is complete.

If someone makes a will but it is not legally valid, on their death their estate will be shared out under certain rules, not according to the wishes expressed in the will.

Where to keep a will

Once a will has been made, it should be kept in a safe place and other documents should not be attached to it. There are a number of places where you can keep a will:-

  • at home
  • with a solicitor or accountant
  • at a bank
  • at the Principal Registry of the Family Division of the High Court, a District Registry or Probate Sub-Registry for safe keeping. If you wish to deposit a will in this way you should visit the District Registry or Probate Sub-Registry or write to:

Probate Department (England and Wales)

Principal Registry of the Family Division

First Avenue House

42-49 High Holborn



Tel: 020 7947 7022 (safe custody enquiries); 020 7947 6983 (how to obtain a will – recorded message); 020 7947 6043/6939 (personal application enquiries)

Probate Helpline: 0300 123 1072

Fax: 020 7947 6946


A codicil is a supplement to a will which makes some alterations but leaves the rest of it intact. This might be done, for example, to increase a cash legacy, change an executor or guardian named in a will, or to add beneficiaries.

A codicil must be signed by the person who made the will and be witnessed in the same way. However, the witnesses do not have to be the same as for the original will.

There is no limit on how many codicils can be added to a will, but they are only suitable for very straightforward changes. If a complicated change is involved, it is usually advisable to make a new will.

Making a will

If you wish to make major changes to a will, it is advisable to make a new one.

The new will should begin with a clause stating that it revokes all previous wills and codicils. The old will should be destroyed. Revoking a will means that the will is no longer legally valid.

Contact us for more information 



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