Skip to main content

What should happen to your estate and ensuring your loved ones are taken care of cannot be underestimated. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by making a Will. This comprehensive guide will delve into the process, ensuring you’re well-equipped to make informed decisions every step of the way. 


#1 Understanding the Basics


A Will is a legally binding document that outlines how you want your assets, property, and wealth to be distributed upon your death.  


The importance of a Will cannot be overstated. Without one, you risk leaving the distribution of your estate to the intestacy rules, which might not align with your intentions. Additionally, ensuring that your Will is well thought out and structured can help prevent potential disputes among beneficiaries.


#2 The Importance of Professional Guidance 


The digital age has brought with it a plethora of DIY Will templates. While these might seem like a cost-effective solution, the complexities of estate distribution, inheritance tax planning, and legal prerequisites often necessitate professional guidance. 


Solicitors, with their vast experience and expertise, can provide invaluable guidance, recommendations and tips. They ensure your Will is both legally compliant and reflective of your wishes.  Solicitors can advise on potential pitfalls where what you may wish to include can cause problems during the administration.  They can also advise on inheritance tax and the most tax efficient way of passing your estate to your beneficiaries. 


#3 Step-by-Step Process 


When making a Will with a professional you may be asked to complete a Questionnaire setting out all your and your family’s personal details, your assets and liabilities and your intentions.  This allows your lawyer to perform an initial assessment of your requirements. 

You will then usually hold a face-to-face or online meeting with your solicitor to discuss the contents of your estate and who you want to leave your estate to.  Once your solicitor has your instructions they will then draft a Will and advise you on contents for you to amend or approve. 

A final version of your Will will then be prepared for you to sign.  There is a specific way that Wills must be signed in order for them to be valid.  You solicitor will advise you on how to sign your Will to ensure it is valid.  Your solicitor will also advise you on how to store your Will and will often provide a storage service. 


#4 Choosing an Executor 


The role of an executor is one of great responsibility. An executor is tasked with the crucial role of carrying out the provisions in your Will. 


Choosing the right executor is paramount. They’ll be responsible for tasks ranging from distributing your estate and paying any outstanding debts to ensuring all taxes (including inheritance tax) are paid. They may also be a trustee of any trust within your Will and may be responsible for any funds for any minor beneficiaries until they reach the age of 18. It’s often recommended to choose someone trustworthy and responsible. 


#5 Choosing Guardians for minor children 


This is often a sticking point for people and arguably one of the most important decisions parents need to make.  You can name the person or persons who you would like to be the legal guardian for your children if you are no longer around.  They will make the day to day decisions regarding the upbringing of your children.  As a parent, appointing guardians in your Will and discussing with those people how you envisage your children’s future can bring great peace of mind. 


#6 Asset Protection 


Trusts in your Will can safeguard assets for future generations, addressing concerns about potential outcomes if everything is left solely to your spouse or civil partner. They provide for your surviving spouse/partner during their lifetime, with assets reverting to your chosen beneficiaries upon their death.

Similarly, trusts offer protection for vulnerable beneficiaries or those facing financial challenges. By providing controlled access to funds without outright ownership, they safeguard state benefits and shield funds during divorce proceedings.


#7 Keeping Your Will Updated 


Life is a series of evolving events. Marriages, births, property acquisitions, and other significant milestones can change the landscape of your estate and wishes. As such, it’s essential to review and update your will regularly.  A lot of single people don’t know that unless a Will is made in contemplation of marriage or civil partnership the Will they have made becomes invalid as soon as they marry or enter into a civil partnership. 


Every time you experience a significant life event, such as marriage, the birth of a child, or the acquisition of substantial assets, it’s a good reminder to revisit your will. Keeping it updated ensures it remains a true reflection of your wishes. 


#8 Storing Your Will 


Once you’ve crafted your Will, its safe storage becomes paramount. It’s of no use if it can’t be found upon your passing. Many opt for storing their Will with their solicitor, in a safe deposit box, or even at home in a fireproof safe. 


You can also register Wills with Certainty, the national register of Wills.


You should inform your executors where your Will is stored and maintain an updated record of your financial assets alongside your Will for easy identification.


#9 Avoiding Common Pitfalls 


The allure of easily accessible DIY Wills can be strong, especially with the promise of reduced costs. However, they come with inherent risks. Without expert advice, you might overlook important issues, potentially leading to disputes or, worse, invalidating your will. This could result in your estate being distributed according to intestacy rules by default


Final Thoughts 


The process of making a will might seem daunting, but with the right guidance, it becomes a straightforward task. Creating a valid will may seem costly initially, but it’s a one-time investment. By investing time now, you’re safeguarding your estate and ensuring your loved ones are cared for according to your wishes.




How do I start making my will?


Begin by listing your assets, from property in the UK or overseas to personal possessions. Decide who you want to appoint as your executors and guardians for minor children.  Think about who you want to benefit under your Will and what you would want to happen if any of those you to choose to benefit were to die before you. Consider seeking professional advice to ensure all legal requirements are met. 


Can I create a will on my own?


When making a will, it’s advisable to consult with a solicitor for expert guidance, rather than solely relying on DIY templates.


What’s the role of an executor in a will?


The executor distributes your estate, pays any debts and taxes, and ensures all legal requirements are met. They may also serve as trustees for trusts in your Will, managing funds for young beneficiaries until they turn 18.


How can I update an existing will?


If you possess a valid Will, you cannot legally alter it by merely jotting down changes. Instead, you may require drafting a new Will or a Codicil, which serves as an addendum amending your original Will. For validity, these amendments must be signed correctly. Regularly reviewing your Will and making adjustments, particularly after major life events, is crucial.


Get in touch

Complete our form and we will get back to you straightaway.