Writing a will
Not everyone has a will and most people do not decide on one until they have a family or suddenly find that they are seriously ill.
Research has shown that people will not take action on making a will unless they face a serious illness.
In fact, most people tend to put it off for as long as they can, but no one knows what tomorrow may hold and knowing that your wishes for your family are respected when you pass away can give you great peace of mind.
If you haven’t thought out taking out a will, then there are good reasons to consider one, especially if you have a family; don’t assume they will get everything you leave behind.
How to get a will
Do it yourself?
This is the cheapest option but can be risky if you have complex affairs, such as owning a business or if you own property overseas.
But if you have a straightforward life with straightforward wishes and are confident with your knowledge on the law, you can download templates online, or even buy them from stationary stores. It is a good idea to use templates, which can cost around £10, rather than jot things down on a piece of paper and hope for the best.
You must get your DIY will signed by a witness to make it legally binding.
Use a solicitor?
Solicitors aren’t cheap, but you can be sure that your will is done properly.
A solicitor can cost you around £150 – £300 for a single will and around £200 – £400 if you are having one drawn up as a couple.
It is particularly a good idea to use a solicitor if you own a business, you want to reduce your inheritance tax, have children with separated partners, or even if you have overseas property.
Use a will writing service?
As long as you use an accredited service, it can be more reliable than doing one yourself, and it won’t cost you as much as a solicitor.
But you should only consider this option if your life affairs are simple.
Will writing services can be done online, by post, or even face to face.
You should check that the firm you use has insurance to cover costs should your will be challenged and ask about their training and credentials.
Get a professional will for free or cheap
If you want to get a professional will done but want to avoid paying a hefty solicitor’s fee, then there are some other options.
Donate to charity
Will Aid teams up thousands of solicitors across the UK and runs a basic will writing service every November.
There is no minimum age to take advantage of their services and the recommended donation is £90 – £135.
They use the donations to help ActionAid, Age UK, British Red Cross, Christian Aid, NSPCC, Save the Children UK, SCIAF, Sightsavers, and Trocaire – so you are helping good causes and get a will done at the same time.
The appointments do however fill up quick, so makes yours as soon as possible.
This charity only caters for people aged 55 and over, in England & Wales, and runs every March and October, every year.
It is limited to certain towns and cities every time it runs.
Visit the Free Wills Month website to register your interest and further details on locations.
Will Relief Scotland has teamed up with Scottish solicitors and four Scottish charities to bring a free will service each September.
Your donation, suggested at £80 for a single, £105 for a joint one, helps these charities: Mission Aviation Fellowship in Sudan, EMMS International, Blythswood Care, and Signpost International.
If you are a union member, then check with them if they offer a will writing service – it could be free or significantly discounted.
If you are disabled, have disabled children, or are over age 70, then you may be able to get Legal Aid to help you make a will.
Click here to find out how you can apply.
Check your home or car insurance legal cover
If you have legal cover as part of your car or home insurance, it may include a will service – worth checking.
Other low cost options
Consumer title Which? has a will writing service costing around £89 for a single one and £149 for a joint one. You answer questions online, this is then sent to a solicitor to be checked and the documents are sent to you to sign in a week or so.
If you have business, overseas assets, or even children with other partners, then this is not a suitable option for you and you will have to use a solicitor.
Saga provides legal services for those aged over 50 and members can get a free basic will writing service online.
If your affairs are complicated, then it will cost you around £51 for a single and £123 for a joint one, if you are a member. For non members it’s £89 for a single one and £186 for a joint one.