image of last will and testament document

How do I write a will myself for free?

Writing a will is the only way to guarantee that your estate is distributed in 100% accordance with your wishes. In the last 20 years, it has become increasingly common for people to try and write their own will. A slew of online guides, as well as relatively cheap “Write your own will” packs in stores like WHSmith, have made this possible. But is it worthwhile writing your own will, considering the peace of mind you’ll enjoy if you get a solicitor to prepare one professionally?

Can I write my will myself?

Yes.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea.

So long as your will is valid – that is, properly signed and witnessed by two non-beneficiary adult witnesses at the same time as you signed it yourself – then it should be legally binding. This stands true even if you write it in an old notepad that you keep on your coffee table.

However, your will needs to be worded in a specific manner to ensure it meets legal requirements and doesn’t leave any room for ambiguity. If the wording of your will doesn’t make it explicit who you want to benefit from your legacy, it may be deemed void.

So, if you’re going to write a will yourself, it’s best to use a template or a “Write your own will” pack. But that’s still not likely to be as good as paying a little more to have it done professionally.

Only consider writing your own will if the following statements are true

  • You’re married and want to leave everything to your partner
  • You were married, your spouse has already died, and you want to leave everything to your children

Writing your own will can be straightforward if your personal life is relatively simple. If the above scenarios reflect your wishes, you might not even bother creating a will at all. Intestacy rules will see your estate passed to your surviving spouse or split equally between your children.

While the above scenarios are relatively common, it’s also true that many people don’t wish to leave everything to their spouses. Likewise, some people choose not to distribute their estate equally among their children. As such, to avoid potential conflicts or challenges to your will following your death, it is worth using a professional will writing service to ensure your document 100% reflects your wishes and is legally sound.

It’s usually worth getting your will professionally written, even if you have a simple estate

Remember, having a will is the only way to guarantee your estate is disbursed 100% in accordance with your wishes.

Even if you have a simple estate consisting of your home and savings, it is worth having a will. For example, if you wanted to make a charitable donation from your estate and didn’t have a will, your beneficiaries would be under no obligation to make such a donation, even if you verbally told them your wishes, due to the rules of intestacy.

There are some circumstances where you should always get your will written professionally, or at the very least take advice about how to do it.

These include:

  • If you own property overseas – including if you’ve retired overseas and have no UK property, but your estate will be dealt with in the UK
  • If you have any other overseas investments or have cash in overseas bank accounts
  • If you’re looking at estate planning in the context of reducing your beneficiaries’ inheritance tax bill
  • If you own a business that you wish to pass onto someone as part of your estate
  • If you have people who are financially dependent on you, other than your immediate family
  • If you have any wishes that may be misunderstood, complicated, or open to interpretation

It’s worth remembering that when you use a professional will writing service, you’ll usually benefit from secure storage and get reminders every few years to update it.

What are the risks of writing my will myself?

The most significant potential risk is that you invalidate the entire document by not signing something properly or correctly communicating your wishes. Although you won’t be around to witness it, you also risk your family and friends falling into conflict over how to deal with your estate, especially if you don’t store your will with a solicitor and it goes missing or can be disputed.

It can be tempting to write your will yourself simply to save money. However, in truth, it doesn’t cost very much to get your will professionally written, especially considering the relative ease with which your estate can be dealt with if everything is correct and in order.

While it’s easy to find templates and will writing packs in shops, the providers of these have no liability for any mistakes you make when creating your will. As such, if your completed document is littered with errors, your family and friends will be left to deal with the aftermath. Furthermore, if you end up invalidating your will, the rules of intestacy could mean your estate is split up far differently from how you wanted.

If I do decide to write a will myself, what should I do?

If you want to have a go at writing your will – you might even create one and then get a legal professional to certify whether it’s sound or not – keep the following in mind:

  • Your will must be correctly signed, dated, and witnessed. If you use an online template or buy a “Write your own will” pack from a shop, these should tell you how to do it. If you look for an online template, ensure it’s valid for use in the UK. If you’re writing your will from scratch, guidance is available on GOV.UK.
  • Carefully check what you have written to ensure all spellings are correct. For example, if you misspell a relative’s name when naming them as a beneficiary, they may not be able to inherit. A court is likely to rule that “no such person exists” rather than assuming what your wishes were, so make sure you get names right! If you’re writing your will relatively early on in your life, remember to update it when your chosen beneficiaries get married or change their names for any other reason.
  • Be specific in what you want. For example, you shouldn’t just say, “I want to leave everything to my partner.” Instead, use the full names of everyone you want to inherit from you.
  • What your will includes and the people you name in it will change through the years. For example, you might acquire or dispense assets. Your children or grandchildren might be born, and designated beneficiaries may pass away themselves. While it’s advisable to update your will at least every five years, you should also remember to destroy any old versions when you do so. This avoids any potential conflict over which version is the most recent one. In addition, when you update your will or write a new one, you should state on the latest version that it revokes whatever is written in the most recent prior version. As with correctly signing, dating, and witnessing your will, your template or “Write your own will” pack should help you do this.
  • For the wishes in your will to be carried out, your chosen executor will need to know where it is so they can get it and deal with your estate accordingly after your death.

Need help writing your will? Contact us now

While it’s possible to write your will yourself, there’s much that can go wrong. If you write an invalid will, your estate will then be divided in accordance with the rules of intestacy, which may not reflect your wishes.

To ensure your will is legally sound and ensure your estate is divided in accordance with your wishes, it’s best to use a professional will writing service.

Contact LawPlus today to discuss the type of will you need or for assistance with any other aspects of estate planning.


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