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What do I need to make a Will?

View profile for Manprit Bhangra
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Discussing life after you pass can be hard to comprehend and acknowledge, and due to the sheer sensitivity of the subject, writing a Will is often something that many people avoid doing. This means many individuals pass away without having a valid Will in place.

When someone dies without a Will in place, they are considered by the law to have died intestate, and their estate will be distributed under the rules of intestacy. This can cause an array of legal issues for loved ones left behind, including financial provisions not being met, people missing out on inheritance and a higher inheritance tax bill. For this reason, writing a Will is crucial.

A Will is important for many reasons, including helping to ensure that your final wishes are met, family members are supported, the possibility of contentious probate claims are reduced and inheritance tax is minimised for removed altogether.

A Will can include a number of different arrangements in concern to your personal finances as well as other matters you wish to address. We address these details further down below.

In this article, we break down what is needed to make a Will, including if you can legally write your own Will, what details are required when writing a Will, the three major requirements to make a Will valid, if it needs to be registered and how a solicitor can assist. For more information on what is needed when drafting a Will, keep reading…

Can I write my own Will legally?

Generally speaking, there are no legal requirements in the law for a Will to be drawn up by a solicitor, meaning that it is possible to legally write your own Will, sometimes referred to as a DIY Will. For a Will to be legally valid, there are certain requirements which need to be correctly followed, otherwise, the Will may be classed invalid and lead to contentious probate.

What details do I need to make a will?

When you appoint a solicitor to assist with drafting your Will, there are a number of details that need to be included. Common examples include:

  • Your personal information, for example, your full name, date of birth, address, relationship status, children’s names and dates of birth
  • All the assets you wish to include in your Will, such as property (including joint property), bank accounts, personal possessions, savings, investments, businesses, foreign assets, etc.
  • Debts and liabilities, such as a mortgage, outstanding loans, credit card balance, overdrafts, equity release, etc. 
  • How assets will be divided if shared among more than one beneficiary
  • Gifts
  • Who your chosen beneficiaries are
  • Legal guardians for any children you have (including step and adopted children) under the age of 18 years old. Names and addresses of those chosen will need to be provided   
  • Arrangements for pets
  • Funeral requirements
  • Letter of wishes
  • Any other requirements
  • Your chosen executor or executors

What are the three major requirements for a Will to be valid?

For a Will to be considered valid, there are a number of requirements which must be met when it is drawn up. These three major requirements are:

  • The Will must be in writing
  • The Will must be signed by you
  • The Will signing must be in the presence of two people who are over 18 years of age

There are also other important requirements and recommendations to ensure that the Will remains valid and doesn’t undergo a contentious probate claim, including:

  • The person writing the Will must be of sound mind
  • There was no undue influence
  • The Will provides financial provisions for certain individuals

Does a Will have to be registered?

A Will does not need to be legally registered so long as the required conditions have been properly met.

There are, however, many perks to registering your Will which should be considered when drafting it.

When a Will is registered, it is put onto the National Will Register database, this means that those in charge of handling your estate after you pass away can do so easier.

Should you wish not to register your Will, you can choose to store it with your solicitors or accountant or even keep it at home in a safe location. It is worth making sure that your chosen executor or executors are aware of its location.

Do you need a solicitor to make a Will?

As we have explained prior, while it is possible to legally write a Will by yourself through a DIY process, it is highly encouraged to obtain advice and guidance from a solicitor due to the high possibility of mistakes occurring when writing a Will.

Errors with Wills can be extremely detrimental and can, in some instances, lead to contentious probate claims being started following your death or could even result in the Will being considered invalid, leaving you as an intestate person.

Using a Will writing solicitor is beneficial for many reasons. Solicitors can provide specialist skills and in-depth knowledge along with considerable expertise, whether this may be for legal advice in regard to Wills, to overlook a drafted DIY Will or to assist with the drafting process.

Book a consultation with our Will solicitors in Tonbridge

We offer an initial consultation with our experienced, friendly Will solicitors from as little as £150 plus VAT, please call us on 01732 353305 or use our simple contact form.

Bailey & Cogger Solicitors is now incorporated by Hatten Wyatt, meaning you can also access our will expertise through local offices in ChathamGravesendMaidstone and Tenterden.

We can also offer meetings by Skype for clients who have to travel extensively or who now live abroad. In exceptional circumstances, home visits can also be arranged.