Writing a will can be one of the most important things you will ever do. The handling of your estate after your passing and the distribution of any assets in the way you wish is something that needs to be done carefully and with full awareness of its consequences.
For many though, it is not always a high priority. Those that are young or feel particularly healthy often feel there may be no need to create a will and it is this that stands to cause problems for the ones they leave behind as squabbles over assets become prevalent.
In the UK, you can create a will in two ways, either by writing one yourself using an online template or by having a solicitor draw one up for you. The average costs for a will in the UK are estimated to be £150-£250. However, you can find them much cheaper, in their most basic form and much more expensive if the will was to be more complex.
Why make a will?
Current stats indicate that around 1 in 3 people die without having made a will meaning that their family members and other loved ones can often be caught up in expensive legal wranglings over the distribution of the deceased’s estate.
By having a will, your wishes of who receives what and how things are handled are carried out to your word. Should you not make a will, your estate will instead be subject to UK law which means that any assets could be distributed to family members that weren’t meant to be the recipients. This can then cause lots of unnecessary in-fighting and legal disputes as those that believe they have a claim on certain elements of the estate may look to find a way to procure them.
By having a will, you avoid this and instead have the final say on how your estate is settled.
When making a will, you should also look to name an executor. This person will then take the role of overseeing that everything is distributed as per your wishes.
What happens if I don’t make a will?
Aside from your estate not necessarily being distributed how you wish; you could also find that the amount of inheritance tax to be paid is significantly higher than it would have been if a will had been drawn up.
In addition, if you have a partner and are either unmarried or have not registered a civil partnership, your partner will not be able to inherit anything from you which could lead to severe financial issues for them after your passing.
What should be included in a will?
A will even in its most basic form should include the major points that should, in theory, cover all of your assets and their distribution upon your passing. This could include:
- How much money you have and what property and possessions you have. This should include, pensions, shares, savings accounts and so on.
- Who should benefit from your will. Each person should be named and if any charity is to receive anything from your will they should also be listed.
- If there are any children under 18, who should now take care of them.
- Who your chosen executor is.
How to make a will valid
To ensure that your will is valid and therefore executed, you will need to ensure that the will is:
- Made by someone that is 18 or over
- Made by a person that is of sound mind
- In writing
- Signed by the will writer and with two witnesses present
- Signed by the two witnesses in sight of the person making the will
A witness will not be allowed to benefit from the will, nor will a married partner if they take on the role of witness. It should also be dated although this is not a legal requirement.
The cost of making a will
As we mentioned earlier, getting a will drawn up online can be relatively cheap and, in some cases, may be all you need to ensure your wishes are carried out upon your passing. A simple online will could cost as little as £30 but should you want to enlist the help of a solicitor, the cost can be so much higher. In some cases, as high as £500 or more. It all comes down to the service you choose to use and how complex your will is likely to be. The current average cost of £150-£250 should cover most requirements however certain exceptions can see costs much cheaper or much higher.
For example, if you don’t own a property, or have very few belongings or savings and have only listed a small number of beneficiaries, the will should cost considerably less than someone that has multiple properties, lots more belongings and a bigger list of beneficiaries.
Perhaps the main thing to focus on rather than cost is that all the wishes you have, can be carried out within the will you have written.
Things can get a little more complicated if you were to consider a joint will.
What are the costs of a joint will?
Commonly created by a husband and wife, a joint will is likely to cost more, with current averages indicating you could need anything from £300-£700 to have one completed. Much like the individual will, the cost will be determined by the complexities of the estate.
One perhaps, significant difference, is that this type of will would, in most cases, require a solicitor to help you complete it. The intricacy in the detail meaning you would likely need an expert set of eyes on the document.
Drawing up a will can be a daunting time, after all, you are listing how people will potentially benefit from your passing. In some cases, selling your home before you pass could be a way for those listed on your will to benefit before inheritance tax takes away a large portion of the estate value. If you own multiple properties but sell one, you can reduce the amount taken by HMRC before your passing. Our free online house valuation means you can see today, just how much you could get for your home and then share amongst your loved ones. Your home can be sold quickly and for free with no cost to you when you choose SOLD.CO.UK.