You can make a will at home or through a solicitor. But, you must make sure your will is valid and change it when circumstances change.
MAKING A WILL: There are several reasons why you should make a will. Once you have made your last will and testament:
Writing a will is often ignored or neglected as part of death and bereavement - and the sadness it brings. But, you can write your last will and testament without a solicitor.
Even so, some wills can be complex and difficult to construct. If this is the case, it is best to get legal advice from someone who is expert in will writing.
To make a will valid and legal according to the law, it needs to be formally 'witnessed' and signed. You must make an official alteration or 'codicil' any time you want to update a will. Often, it is simpler and less confusing to make a new will instead.
Note: UK law determines the beneficiary of your assets if you die without leaving a will. That means the estate gets distributed according to legal processes rather than your intended wishes.
There is a basic checklist of things to set out in a will. As a minimum, it should include instruction on:
Wills that are not straightforward should be written by a professional. Examples of common complexities might include a situation where you:
There are several safe places to keep a will. Most people store it at home. If so, it would be best to keep it in a waterproof and fireproof box (if possible).
Even so, you can also store the written document with:
Note: Further guidance on storing a will with the Probate Service is available on leaflet PA7. Someone needs to know where you stored the will. As a rule, tell your executor, a relative, or a close friend where you keep it.
To leave a legally valid Last Will and Testament in the United Kingdom you must be at least 18 years old and be of sound mind. You must also:
Note: You cannot leave any assets in the will to any of the witnesses (or their married partners). You must follow the same signing and witnessing process after making any changes to a will.
People often forget about their will once it gets validated and stored. But, it is wise to review it at least every few years and after making any major life changes, such as:
Once it gets signed and witnessed you cannot amend the will or make any changes by yourself. To change it, you need to make an official alteration or 'codicil'.
Note: After making a codicil you must get it witnessed using the same method as witnessing a will. But, there are no limits on the number of codicils you can add to a will.
As a rule, most people prefer to make a new will if there are major changes to the written content and instruction.
A new will must explain that it officially cancels or 'revokes' all previous wills and codicils. It is best to destroy the old will afterwards (e.g. burn it or shred it).
In fact, it is possible to change someone's will after their death. But, any beneficiaries who would become worse off by the changes must first agree to it.
Note: Use form IOV2 to check whether a 'variation' would meet legal requirements. If you want to change a will you must have it completed within two (2) years of the death.
How to Make a Will in the United Kingdom