Drafting a will
Provided that you are over the age of 18 (12 in Scotland) and of ‘sound mind’ you can make a valid will by writing it yourself and ensuring that your signature is properly signed and witnessed by two witnesses.
A solicitor is not required to make a will.
The will must be drafted correctly to be valid. The probate registry will refuse to accept a will if it is in any way incorrectly prepared. As a result we strongly recommend that you use a solicitor.
Online will writing services
There are online and postal will writing services and self help books available if you want to draft your own will. However, as there have been too many well-substantiated reports of you should only consider using these if your affairs are very straight forward.
Even then we suggest that you have a solicitor check the will you have drawn up to ensure that it will have the effect you want.
Mistakes are easy to make and sorting out misunderstandings and disputes may result in considerable legal costs after your death.
Charities will sometimes pay
Some charities will pay the solicitor’s bill for you – in the hope of a bequest. Unless you have already decided to make such a bequest you may find that they exert undue pressure which you may prefer to avoid.
Using a solicitor
For many people’s situations a will won’t cost much, if any, more if done by a solicitor than by one of the many online will-writing services available, with the peace of mind of being sure it was done by a qualified (and insured!) person.
For more complicated situations we regard the use of a solicitor as essential.
When is it advisable to use a solicitor?
If your affairs are in any way complicated then it is advisable to seek professional advice from a solicitor. We suggest that you should always use a solicitor in the following circumstances:
1. You own property with a person, who is not your spouse or civil partner,
2. There are family members, who may make a claim on the Will; for example, a previous spouse or children from a previous marriage,
3. You own all or part of a business,
4. You own overseas property,
5. You want to include a trust in your Will; for example, in order to make provision for your children or for a dependent unable to care for themselves, or
6. Your permanent home is not in the UK or you are not a British citizen.
The information which we provide through Lasting Post is in outline for information or educational purposes only. The information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a solicitor, accountant or other professional adviser. We cannot guarantee that information provided by Lasting Post will meet your individual needs, as this will very much depend on your individual circumstances. You should therefore use the information only as a starting point for your enquiries.