Creating a last will and testament is an important piece of admin many of us avoid dealing with, as it also forces us to acknowledge the upsetting reality of death.
Templates for do-it-yourself wills you can create and sign at home are cheap and easy to find both online and in business and stationary shops.
Writing your own will
Technically, you can write your own without any help or even a template – as long as you write down your instructions and they are properly signed and witnessed by two independent adults at the time you sign it, it should be considered legally binding.
This isn’t necessarily a smart idea, for obvious reasons; if someone comes to contest it further down the line, you risk having your wishes misinterpreted or overruled. Using at the very least a template will help ensure everything is worded correctly and that your instructions are very clear.
A DIY will works best when your wishes are simple and straightforward, for example if you’re married and you wish to leave all your property, estate and assets to your partner or to your children.
If you do write your own will, be specific – use full names, carefully check spelling and destroy any old wills that may have come before your most recent copy.
Appoint an executor and make sure they know where your will is kept. Most importantly, make sure the will is signed, dated and witnessed properly – most templates will help you with the exact steps you need to take.
When writing your own will becomes a bigger risk is when you have a complex financial situation, have an unmarried partner or have an extended family with children and step-children.
Things like foreign investments, inheritance tax, businesses, financial dependents or a very specific set of wishes – for example leaving certain heirlooms to certain family members – mean it’s best to seek professional help to write your will. The relatively small cost to have it done properly can save your family pain and disappointment further down the line.
If you’re interested in learning more about a do-it-yourself will, you can find great resources online that will help answer many of your questions, along with services that will provide templates you can download and print for free or a small fee. Some useful links include:
- The Money Advice Service guide to writing your own will
- Last Will and Testament DIY Will Download eKit for England, Wales and Northern Ireland from WHSmith
- Which? Wills service
- The Government online guide to making a will
- Free last will and testament form from Law Depot
Have you made your last will and testament? Share your experiences in the comments below
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