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Do you need a solicitor present to write a will?

You do not need a solicitor present to write a will. This said, there are some important reasons why you should want your will to be checked by a solicitor, and why every will made on Make a Will Online is checked by a solicitor.

All qualified solicitors are regulated by the SRA – the Solicitors Regulation Authority – and have to follow their code of conduct. Solicitors also have to study and pass tough exams before they can call themselves solicitors. They need appropriate insurance to ensure you are protected. We are authorised by the SRA to provide the services of solicitors to the public.

On the other hand, absolutely anyone in the UK can call themselves a will writer.

If you don’t want a solicitor-checked will, you should at least ensure that your will writer is a member, like we are, of a professional body like the society of will writers, where members need to follow a code of conduct that includes having sufficient insurance and staying up to date with regular training.

It’s up to you, but if you choose a DIY online will that is not solicitor checked, you need to be comfortable with that level of risk.

Circumstances where we would recommend visiting a solicitor:

If you own property, or any other immovable assets, anywhere other than England and Wales, you should speak to a solicitor experienced in dealing with the laws of that country.

If you own a farm.

If you are not a British citizen and your permanent home is not in England or Wales.

If your estate totals over £1,000,000, we recommend that you see a solicitor and/or IHT expert as they will be able to help with your tax liability.

My will has not arrived

If you have not received your will by email within 20 minutes of purchase, check your junk/spam folder. 90% of the time, it will be in there.

If the email is not in your junk mail folder, email us with your name, the email address you used to sign up for our service and when you purchased your will, and we will re-send the documents.

Scottish wills

Our wills are only valid in England and Wales as they conform to English and Welsh law. They are not valid in Scotland. This is because there are a number of differences between probate law north and south of the border. For example, the idea of “moveable” estate, which includes and property that is not land or buildings, is important in Scottish probate law. The intestacy rules are also significantly different to those in England and Wales, giving family members specific rights.

If you have assets in, or live in, Scotland, we recommend that you visit a solicitor familiar with Scottish wills and probate law.

What happens if I die without a will?

Dying without a valid will is called “dying intestate” or in a state of “intestacy”. Around a third of people in the United Kingdom die intestate and this can lead to a huge amount of suffering and extra expense for family members and loved ones.

There is a common misconception that surviving relatives decide how an estate should be divided but this is not the case. There are strict rules that determine how an estate is managed and who gets what. In some cases, this can mean that the money goes to the government. Having a fully legal will is the only way to guarantee that doesn’t happen.

If you are married or in a civil partnership, the first beneficiary will be the surviving partner, but they will not necessarily inherit the whole estate and the inheritance is dependent on which blood relatives survive the deceased.

Major problems can occur for unmarried couples as the surviving partner won’t automatically have a claim in the way that a married partner would. The process for claiming can be slow and there is no guarantee of success. Similarly, if you are separated but not divorced from a spouse, they will still have an automatic claim to your estate unless you specify otherwise in a valid will.

Step children and illegitimate children can also complicate the picture in the absence of a last will and testament.

Remember to update your will or create a new one when your circumstances change, inform your family and friends when you change your will and be sure to let them know where your signed will is stored. This has to be the original document.

What is probate?

Probate is the process of dealing with a deceased person’s estate, including their finances and assets, and then distributing the estate among beneficiaries.

With a legal and up-to-date will in place, the executors named in the will have responsibility for probate, so it is important to inform your chosen executors. Our will writing service allows you to name back up executors in case your first choices are unwilling or unable to perform the duty.

Executors will be issued with a “grant of administration” which allows them access to the deceased’s assets, in order to distribute them once any inheritance tax has been paid.

If you die without a will, a close relative can apply to the Probate Registry to be officially recognised as responsible for your estate. This process is not always a smooth one and a “grant of letters of administration” is not always issued. By far the best way to avoid this difficulty is to have a legal and up-to-date will in place.

Find out more about applying for probate on

Who can witness a will?

Witnessing the last will and testament is an essential step in making your will legal. If your will is not correctly witnessed, it is not valid. If you choose invalid witnesses (see below), they will not be able to inherit from your estate.

Your will must be signed by two witnesses, in your presence, at the same time as you sign the will

A witness or the married/civil partner of a witness cannot benefit from the will

A blind person cannot be a witness

Witnesses must be over 18 years of age

A witness must be “of sound mind” and capable of understanding the nature and effect of what they are doing in witnessing your will

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

With, you will receive comprehensive instructions for signing and witnessing your will along with the document.

Do married couples need two wills?

Married couples should have two wills to ensure that each individual’s wishes are fulfilled.

For example, if you personally own a watch that you would like your son or daughter to inherit, that should be covered by your individual will. In some cases, one spouse may not want the other to inherit a property in which the couple lives but is owned by an individual.

A will is a personal thing but if both partners have identical wishes, a mirror will is an option. In a mirror will, the content of both wills is nearly identical, except for the name of the testator.

Making a pair of wills with Make a Will Online

Our great value will writing service allows you to make a pair of wills for just £90.00.

Once you have completed your first will, you will have the chance to start a second one. You can either start a brand new will, following the same set of questions as before, or you can make a mirror will, which “mirrors” the wishes of the first will.

The only new information you will need to enter for a mirror will is the name of the second testator (the person whose will it is) and any specific legacies, ie gifts that belong to the individual. Also, be sure to check any funerary wishes for each individual.

With Make a Will Online, you can login and update your will for up to 30 days, or sign up for lifetime updates.

Storing a will

The original versions of legal documents, such as Wills and Powers of Attorney are the only legally binding versions. Scans, photocopies and computer records are not legally valid because they don’t have your original signature on them. That’s why it’s essential that you store your will safely. It is also essential that your will should be easily found once it is needed. So… DO NOT STORE YOUR WILL IN A BANK SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX. Probate can’t be granted without the original will and the box can’t be opened until Probate is granted.

You can store the document nearly anywhere, but we recommend the storage service offered by the National Will Safe. When you store your will with them, you can access it whenever you need, and replace the document for no extra charge if you make a new will.

While your documents are with National Will Safe they are fully insured against loss or damage. If anything happens to your documents, they will be recreated and replaced for you, free of charge. If your document is lost or damaged at the time it is needed, or its loss or damage only comes to light at the time it is needed then they are insured for up to £2million to compensate anyone who loses out or incurs costs as a result.

National Will Safe provide you with plastic identity cards for you and your Executors. They display your name, a unique storage reference number and our contact details.

Can I cancel a last will and testament?

Cancelling your will is known as revoking your will. You can do this at any time by simply destroying your will, either by tearing it up, shredding it or burning it. If you do this, you should be careful to ensure that no previous executed (signed and witnessed) wills are still in existence.

Alternatively, making a new will cancels any previous will – the first clause of a well drafted document is usually a revocation of all former wills. If you make a will online using our website, you can rest assured that your new will is valid.

If you do cancel your last will and testament, you could consider informing anyone who will be affected by your decision, for example beneficiaries, guardians and executors.

I am getting married, do I need a will?

Making a will may not be the first thing you think of when planning your wedding, but you should be aware that your legal status changes upon marriage.

Importantly, any former will is automatically revoked (cancelled) unless it specifically states otherwise. This means that your estate will be divided according to the government’s intestacy rules and not according to your wishes.

It is important to update your will or create a new will whenever your circumstances change, for example getting married or entering a civil partnership, getting divorced or dissolving a civil partnership, or when you have children.

Find out more about pairs of wills and mirror wills.

I have separated from my partner, do I need a new will?

Unless you want your estate to pass to the person from whom you are separated, a new will is the only way to ensure your wishes are fulfilled. Here are two examples:

Without a will:

Jack and Diane have been married for five years and have two children. Diane leaves Jack and the children and moves in with Terry. Jack has not yet started divorce proceedings when he dies without a legally valid last will and testament.

Diane would still be first in line to inherit Jack’s money and property according to intestacy laws. Jack could have prevented this by writing and executing a will.

With an out-of-date will:

Andy and Mark wrote mirror wills leaving everything to each other after entering a civil partnership. They have since separated and are living with other partners but have not re-written or revoked their wills.

Until the civil partnership is officially dissolved, the wills are still valid: Andy’s possessions would go to Mark and vice versa.

Divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership

Divorce or dissolution of civil partnership does not automatically revoke your will like getting married does. If you divorce or dissolve your civil partnership after your will is made, any reference to your former spouse or civil partner will be treated as if he or she had died on the day that the decree absolute or final dissolution order was made. You should seek legal advice in those circumstances.

It is important to update your will or create a new will whenever your circumstances chance, for example getting married or entering a civil partnership, getting divorced or dissolving a civil partnership, or when you have children.

What is a will?

A will (properly known as a “last will and testament”) is a legal document in which you can determine what happens after you die to your possessions, body and any surviving children for whom you are legally responsible. Without a will, the courts decide what happens to your possessions according to a strict set of rules.

One important function of a will is to name an executor or executors. This is the person who will manage the probate – the process of tying up any loose ends and distributing your estate after your death.

A will should state clearly what you want to happen to your possessions and any specific wishes you have. To become legally valid, it is essential that the will should be correctly witnessed by two people who are not beneficiaries in the will and who are not married/in a civil partnership with a beneficiary of the will.

A will can fail if it is poorly drafted, contradictory or incorrectly witnessed. For example, if you own a property jointly with someone, you can only deal with the part that belongs to you in your will and you should inform the owner of the other half. For your security, all wills made on this site are checked by our expert team.

It is also very important that a will should be properly stored as your instructions can only be carried out if the document can be found.

Our solicitor-designed online software allows you to draft a last will and testament according to longstanding legal traditions. It is perfect for anyone who needs the peace of mind that can only come from having a valid last will and testament .

Wills and step children

Unless you have legally adopted your step children, they have no automatic right to inherit under the laws of intestacy. The only way to ensure that they will be provided for in the event of your death is to name them as beneficiaries in your will.

Using our online will writing service, you can determine exactly who you want your possessions to pass to in the event of your death. Without a valid last will and testament, your estate will be divided according to the laws of intestacy. It is in these circumstances that stepchildren can be left unprotected.

If you have stepchildren and wish for them to be provided for in the same way as your biological children, you must do so with a last will and testament. Without a will, they have less claim to your estate than, for example, an illegitimate child who can prove a blood relationship to you.

Remembering a charity in your will

Gifts left in wills are one of the major sources of income for UK-based charities. But while almost three quarters of people in Britain support charities, less than one in ten leave a charitable legacy in their last will and testament.

Our service allows you to assign a legacy of any size to a charity of your choice. You can either give a specific gift to a charity, normally a sum of money, or you can make the charity a residuary beneficiary.

Some people choose to make the charity into a backup residuary beneficiary in the case that there are no living relatives to inherit an estate.

The UK’s charitable sector currently receives around £2 billion a year from legacies.

If you are a legacy fundraiser, find out more about our service for charities.

I have a large and/or complicated estate

If you have a large estate that could be subject to inheritance tax (see here) then your beneficiaries could benefit if you spoke to a specialist. A list of tax planning and private client solicitors can be found on the Law Society website here.

Similarly, if you have a complex estate, for example adult dependent relatives then you should speak to a solicitor face to face.

I’m worried about mental capacity issues

When you make a will you need to know exactly what you are doing and why you are doing it. If you or your loved ones worry that this may not be the case you should consult a traditional face-to-face solicitor.

The test the Courts use (the “Banks v Goodfellow” test) will try to answer the following four questions about you when you made your will:

  • did you know you were making a will;
  • did you know what assets were in your estate;
  • did you know who might have expected to inherit; and
  • did you have any “…disorder of the mind or insane delusions”?

If you have any concerns around this – or if you feel that anyone in the future may question any of the above – you should speak to a solicitor face to face. A list of solicitors can be found on the Law Society website.

You can read more about protecting your will from a challenge around mental capacity here.

Money back guarantee

We firmly believe that the online wills made on this site are the best currently available in England and Wales. To support this claim, we offer a 30 day money back guarantee.

If you are in any way dissatisfied with a last will and testament created on this site, simply let us know why within 30 days of making your purchase and we will refund your money. The full amount paid will be refunded to the original source of payment.

It is very important to us that, should you request your money back, you let us know why so that we can further improve our wills service.

A pair of wills or mirror wills?

Make a Will Online offers superb-value pairs of solicitor-checked wills. Once you have entered your details for the first will, you will have the chance to add a second document. This option is perfect for married couples or civil partners.

You can either make a pair of wills or mirrored wills. The difference is that, for a pair of wills you will enter completely new information for the second will, while a mirror will reflects the information entered for the first will. However, some information must be re-entered on a mirrored will, for example the name of the testator (the person making the will), funerary instructions (burial, cremation, etc) and any individual gifts (specific legacies).

With Make a Will Online, you can easily login and update your will, to make sure that all details remain up to date; and every document is checked by a solicitor for your peace of mind.