Common Questions About Making A Will
An executor is someone nominated by you 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 then distribute the balance to your nominated beneficiaries according to your wishes. If you fail to appoint an executor, the High Court will issue a grant of probate and appoint one (generally a bank or solicitor) to act on your behalf. The whole point of writing a will is to control how your affairs are handled and by people who you choose and trust. Therefore it is important to appoint executors yourself who you know you can rely on rather than strangers appointed by the courts if you don’t. It can be a complicated and time-consuming job so you need to think carefully about who the best person will be. Anyone over the age of 18, including a beneficiary, can be appointed as an Executor but the total number of executors you can choose is four and they must act together. They can do this themselves or they may instruct a solicitor to act for them.
When you make a will, you need to appoint at least one person to carry out your wishes on your death. This person is known as an Executor. See the response to What is an Executor below for more information.
Divorce does not automatically cancel your Will but any gift to a divorced spouse or any appointment of that spouse, as an Executor for example, automatically lapses unless you re-confirm it in a new Will. It is always adviseable to make a new will after such a major event in your life as a divorce.
Yes, as a Last Will and Testament only becomes legally valid once it has been signed and witnessed by two people who are of sound mind and over the age of eighteen. Your witnesses must not benefit in any way from your Last Will and testament as any entitlement they have as a beneficiary will be invalidated by he/she witnessing your signature. A witness is confirming your signature on the Will, but does not need to be aware of its content. If you suffer from a disability and are unable to write your name, special clauses need to be drafted into your Will.
Your last will and testament should be as personal to you as possible and state exactly how you want your affairs to be handled after your death. You can make personal comments, specify whether you wish to be buried, cremated or otherwise or if you wish to leave the decision to your family or friends. You can specify where you want any funeral service to be held, and even which sermon or hymn should be used. A last will and testament is not always a long complex document, it should be as easy to understand as possible with clear and precise instructions. To ensure this is achieved you should be guided by a professional or experienced Will writer.
There is no requirement in law to use a solicitor to make a will. You can buy Do It Yourself Will kits and books from most good stationery and book shops or order them online from various sources priced at between £5-20. Whilst making a will using a kit and/or book is a cheap and simple option it is only for the very simplest situations and even them should still be reviewed by an an expert.
Making a Will Through a Will Writing Service
Most online will writing services will charge between £20 and £90 depending upon the type and complexity of your affairs. If your affairs are quite complicated it is adviseable to use a solicitor. Will Drafters £40** Ten Minute Will £50**
Making a Will Through a Solicitor
Charges for drawing up a will can vary between solicitors but generally range from £60-£200 depending upon the type and level of service you choose. They also depend on:
- the experience and knowledge of the solicitor; and
- how complicated your will may be.
Before you decide who to use, check with a few local solicitors to find out how much they charge. But remember that cost should not be the only consideration. It is equally important to find a solicitor who is helpful and whose advice you understand.
Many people mistakenly assume that their estate will go direct to their partner if they die without making a will. This isn’t necessarily the case, for example, an unmarried partner will be entitled to nothing in law. Take the Gov.uk interactive Intestacy questionnaire for more details on what could happen in your circumstances.
Yes. You can revoke your last Will at any time by canceling it. This is done simply by destroying it, or by making a new Last Will. A new last Will, dated and witnessed correctly, automatically revokes or cancels any earlier Last Will made by you.
No, it is not possible to have a joint will, they must be individual wills. However, you can have “Mirror Wills”. A mirror will is when a husband, wife or partner make almost identical wills and commonly leave everything to each other should one partner die, and if both die together then direct to children. Each spouse is usually both a sole beneficiary and sole executor for each other. If there are no children then to a named beneficiary. Mirror Wills are simply separate and individual legal documents with similar contents.
You can make alterations to your will by adding a Codicil, but if the alterations are extensive then it would be advisable for you to prepare a new Last Will. Do not attempt to write in any amendments or make any alteration to your last Will after it has been prepared and do not attach any papers to your last Will. It is recommended that you re-write your Will if there are changes to be made in it.
No, a will automatically becomes null and void unless it contains a statement that takes account of the new marriage. However, divorce does not automatically cancel your Will but any gift to a divorced spouse or any appointment of that spouse (ie Executor) automatically lapses unless you re-confirm it in a new Will.