5 answers to the most commonly asked questions about will writing

For most people, writing a will is something of a leap into the dark. It’s not something any of us like to spend a lot of time thinking about so it’s, therefore, natural to have lots of questions. You may have questions relating to your personal family or financial circumstances, questions about how you go about writing a will, or questions about what must go into it – all of which are important to get answered before putting pen to paper.

A goodwill writing service will answer all of your questions so make sure you ask if you are concerned about anything. But to get you started, here are the answers to five of the most commonly asked questions relating to making a will:

Q1. Do I need a will?

A will is a legal document, written to state what you wish to happen to your property and possessions after your death. Making a will is very important no matter how large or small the value of your assets, as it is the only way you can guarantee that they will be divided up in the way you want after your death, and ensure that your loved ones are provided for. Although there is no legal obligation to write a will, it is highly advised that you do so.

Writing a will has added importance if you have young children as it is the only way to pick your choice of a legal guardian for them, in the event of your death.

Q2. What happens if a person does not make a will before dying?

Dying without making a will is called dying ‘intestate’. When a person dies intestate, in the absence of their own wishes being documented, the law sets out how the deceased’s estate and affairs should be dealt with. In these circumstances, assets usually go to spouses in the first instance, or children if there is no living spouse. If the deceased has a partner but is not married to them (also known as a ‘common-law partner’), things become more complicated as under British law, a surviving common-law partner has no automatic right to inherit and the estate of the deceased is automatically shared between surviving children if there are any. It is therefore even more important to write a will in these circumstances if you wish to provide for you partner after your death.

If the deceased has a surviving wife, husband or civil partner, they keep all assets up to the value of £250,000 and all personal possessions (whatever their value), with the remaining estate being shared as follows; 50% going to the surviving spouse or civil partner, and the remaining 50% is divided between the deceased’s children.

Q3. How can you make sure your will is ‘valid’?

A legally valid will is one that has adhered to all the strict protocols laid down by law, stating how a will should be written and has been accepted by the court. Probate is granted when the court is satisfied that your will was written in the correct manner and is a true reflection of your wishes.  

To be valid, a will must;

  • Be written. Either handwritten typed of printed; all are valid. But a verbal recording of a will cannot be accepted.
  • Signed by yourself
  • You must have been in sound mind and over the age of 18 at the time of writing
  • Witnessed by two people, neither of whom can be beneficiaries, who must sign in your presence and must be present when you sign the will.

If your will is not made in this way, then the court may decide it is not valid and therefore cannot be enforced. In this circumstance, the court will decide what happens to your assets, with little or no regard to the instructions in your will.

Q4. Can I make a will myself?

The short answer to this question is, yes. There are many different ways that wills can be written. You may engage the services of a solicitor to write and store your will for you, or you may use the services of a will writing company which can give you guidance and even a will writing template from which you can draft your own will. Or you can take the DIY option and write and arrange for the storage of your will entirely by yourself. However, there are times when it would certainly be advisable to seek professional help rather than writing your will yourself. If you have a large estate or complicated family arrangements, or you simply don’t feel confident writing your will yourself, you must seek advice from an expert.

Q5. How do I make sure my wishes are carried out?

One of the most important aspects of writing a will is the nomination of an executor. The executor of your will is the person designated to ensure your will is executed in just the way you have stated. You can choose anyone to act as your executor – a relative, friend or a solicitor. It is commonplace to appoint someone who is also a benefactor, as they then have an incentive to make sure the will is carried out as per your wishes.

Writing a will is undoubtedly one of the most important jobs you will undertake in your lifetime. And as with most decisions in life, if you want to make the right decisions, it’s important be informed of the facts. Ensuring that your loved ones are provided for after your death and that you assets are distributed as per your wishes, makes will writing something incredibly important to get right. Therefore, make sure that you get all your questions answered and never sign anything until you are fully satisfied that it is a true, clear reflection of your wishes.