Making a Will is your opportunity to make sure that the people and charities you choose will benefit from your estate, so it is worth taking the time to think through what you want and to ensure that your Will is legal and valid.
Plan what's being left, and to whom
- Make a list of who you want to include in your Will. You might want to include your partner or spouse, children and other family members, friends and charities. These people (or charities) are called your beneficiaries.
- Write down your assets. Things like your savings, any property you own and any valuable items - and a rough idea of what they’re worth. You should also think about any sentimental items that you might want particular people to have.
- Think about how you want to split your assets between the people you’ve listed. You may find it helpful to think about what’s important to you. For example, it might be things like making sure that your partner is provided for, or ensuring that your grandchildren get the best education.
Thinking about these things will make it easier to work out what to leave to whom.
Drawing up your Will
Keep your Will safe
You can keep your Will at your home or you may well be able to store it with your solicitor or bank. There are also companies that store Wills – you can search for these online.
If you decide to keep your Will at home, make sure you tell your executor (the person you’ve chosen to carry out your Will), close friend or relative where your Will is.
If you have updated an existing Will (other than by creating a codicil - see below) or replaced one, you should destroy all the copies of the old Will to avoid any confusion or problems.
Can a Will be changed?
If you already have a Will, you may well need to review it, particularly if there have been any major changes in your life such as:
- getting separated or divorced
- getting married (this cancels any Will you made before you were married)
- having a child
- moving house
- if the executor named in the Will dies.
If you already have a Will and want to make some small changes – such as making a specific gift to a person or organisation – it may not be necessary to change the whole document. It is wise to consult your solicitor, but you may be able to record any changes by creating a codicil, which is a legally binding document that alters or adds to your existing Will. A codicil must be signed and witnessed in the same way as a full Will to make it legal.
If you want to make substantial changes, it is better to create a new Will. A new Will normally includes wording that cancels all previous Wills with words such as ‘I hereby revoke all previous Wills, codicils and testamentary provisions made by me at any time and declare this to be my last Will.’
If you do write a new Will, make sure that you destroy any copies of your old Will to avoid any confusion or problems.