Make a will for free in five easy steps
Time needed: 20 minutes.
You can make a will on your own for free if you have straightforward needs and a simple estate. You don’t need to make a will with a solicitor or make a will online. All you need to do is follow the following five easy steps. Before you do: see the important warning at the end.
- Make it clear that you’re writing a will
Get a pen and paper. You must be clear that you intend to write your Last Will and Testament. Therefore: write “My Last Will and Testament” at the top of the page. Also (for the avoidance of any doubt) write “This is the last will of…” and then enter your full name and address. So there’s no confusion with earlier wills, you should also write “I revoke all former wills”.
- Choose the “executors” of your will
You need people to carry out the wishes in your will and make sure the right people get your money and belongings. Choose people you trust deeply to do this. You should choose two or more executors, alternatively: appoint a professional firm of solicitors or accountants (professionals will charge to do the work). Always make sure that the executors, and everyone else mentioned in the will has their full names and addresses quoted.
- Choose “residuary beneficiaries”
Who do you want to inherit the bulk of everything you own (your ”residuary estate”). Usually it’s your spouse, partner or your children. If you want more than one person you should be very clear whether you want them to inherit equally or in specified proportions.
- Set out specific gifts (“legacies”)
Do you want to give something to someone special? e.g. a wedding ring or sum of money to a child or grand-child. Be as specific as possible with the description of what you’re giving. You can also specify who you would like to look after your children if you leave any children parentless when you die. The courts have final say in the best interest of your children, but they will take your wishes into consideration.
- Sign, witness and store your will.
Once you’ve done all that, sign and date the will in front of two unrelated, adult witnesses (who are not inheriting anything and not related or married to anyone inheriting). They should sign the will and enter their full addresses too. They both need to see you and see each other sign the will. Finally: store the will somewhere very safe and tell the executors where you’ve put it.
Warning: think carefully and exercise extreme caution when making your own will
You should only make your own will if you understand exactly what you are doing (preferably you should be legally trained). If there is any risk of confusion or challenge to your will you should get a professional to do it. Where your estate is worth more than a few thousand pounds at the time of your death or if you own property or investments you should ensure you have a professionally written will with us or with a solicitor.
If you do make a will yourself you should be aware the following facts:
- DIY wills are the cause of most of the claims at court. A typical court case will cost over £10,000. The people who lose out are going to be those closest to you including the people who you wanted to inherit through your will.
- ALL reputable will writers have insurance in case something goes wrong. If you make a will yourself and there is a mistake somewhere then the people you want to benefit may lose out, your will could end up being disputed. A lot of your wealth could go on solicitors and court fees, rather than your loved ones. Your wishes may not be able to be carried out. If you use a professional, your beneficiaries are protected.
So: exercise caution when making your own will.