Let’s face it, making a will is never going to be a fun job. But there are plenty of good reasons to have one– from making sure the right people inherit from you, to appointing guardians for your children and keeping any inheritance tax to a minimum.
Free or reduced-cost wills
Before you fork out any money, check to see if your employer or any trade union you’re a member of, offers any special deals. For example, some trade unions offer free will writing services for their members and, in some cases, partners too.
Alternatively you could take advantage of one of the schemes below to help you get your will written in exchange for a donation or bequest to charity.
- Will Aid month in November when solicitors agree to write your will for free in exchange for a donation to charity (suggested donation of £95 for a single will).
- Will Relief Scotland runs a similar scheme to Will Aid but in September each year.
- Free Wills Month in March and October when solicitors write simple wills for free if you’re over 55 and in exchange ask you to leave something in your will to charity.
If you’re a supporter of a charity you may be able to get a simple will written for free through the National Free Wills Network providing the charity is one of those signed up to the network. There’s no obligation to leave a gift to the charity in your will, but most people do.
Getting ready to make your will
Whichever route you go down, it’s a good idea to do some preparation first. Free Wills Month and Will Aid have both produced handy planners to help you prepare for the questions your solicitor will ask you.
Finding a solicitor
The following organisations have online searches which can help you find a solicitor in your area specialising in wills.
- The Law Society - find a solicitor in England and Wales
- Solicitors for the elderly – find a solicitor with particularly expertise and experience in dealing with older and vulnerable clients in England and Wales
- The Law Society of Scotland
- Solicitors for older people Scotland
Changing your will
Don’t forget it's a good idea to update your will as your life changes. In particular, marriage, civil partnerships and divorce affect your will in different ways so it’s essential you review it at these points.
Other major changes such as having a baby, getting separated or moving house are also good times to check your will is still relevant.
If you want to change your will you can either make a new one (which will revoke any previous will you have made) or alter the existing one by adding what’s known as a codicil. Any changes must be properly witnessed.
Storing your will
It's important to keep your will safe and to tell your executors where it is. You can just file it at home but make sure it’s in a secure and fireproof place. If a solicitor draws up your will they will usually keep the original and send you a copy.
If you have written it yourself you could store it with a bank, solicitor or private will storage facility for a fee. Alternatively, if you’re in England and Wales you could lodge it with the London Probate Service for a small one-off charge.
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