Writing a Will is one of the most important financial decisions you can make. It ensures your wishes are followed after your death and protects your family by making sure they are provided for. But, even though you know you should make a Will, so many people don’t. A report in 2023 found that a huge 56% of adults in the UK don’t have a Will. Perhaps you’re one of them and are worried that it will be really expensive to make one. With the ongoing cost-of-living crisis it’s not surprising that many of us think that making a Will is something that can be shelved for another day. But, writing a Will doesn’t have to be expensive. In theory, you could make a Will on any piece of paper as long as it’s properly signed and is witnessed by two adult independent witnesses who are not beneficiaries. If you do this then it will probably be legally valid. However, this might feel as if it’s leaving too much to chance. There are certain phrases and terms that lawyers write into most Wills as standard. That’s because they work and take away the possibility of misinterpretation.
The good news is that you can use a template Will that has standard sections and terms already set out in it to make a legally valid Will. If you use a Will template, this means that it’s less likely that you will make a mistake, as long as you follow the guidance notes supplied. They’re a cost-effective solution if your situation is fairly simple.
Worried that a DIY Will won’t suit you? Answer the seven simple questions below to decide.
Q1 Do you have your permanent home in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland?
Yes – go to Q2.
No – This Will Kit is not suitable for you because you are not domiciled (ie, you don’t have your permanent home) in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. The law differs between different countries, so you will need to take international legal advice.
Q2 Are you of sound mind*?
Yes – go to Q3.
No – This Will Kit may not be suitable for you. If you have a history of mental disorder or an illness may be affecting your judgement, you should consult a qualified doctor just before preparing your Will. This will help establish whether you are able to make a Will.
* ‘Sound mind’ means that you understand the type of document being written or signed, and are aware of the value of your property and the identity of the people you wish to inherit your property.
Q3 Are you over 18 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or over 12 in Scotland?
Yes – go to Q4.
No – If you are under the legal age, you can’t make a Will. The exception is that if you are under 18 and in active service with the armed forces in war, or at sea as a seaman, you can make a Will.
Q4 Do you have more than £325,000 worth of assets*?
Yes – This Will Kit is suitable for you, but it only provides a simple outline of Inheritance Tax planning. If you want to find ways to reduce your Inheritance Tax bill, reading this article ‘Top tips for Inheritance Tax planning in 2024’ can help.
No – go to Q5.
* This figure is the current amount of assets that is free from Inheritance Tax. This figure will remain the same until April 2026. It includes your property, personal possessions, cash, savings and investments. Note that some insurance policies can’t be left in your Will. You need to check with your insurance provider whether this applies to you. Consider whether your insurance policy is written in trust in which case it doesn’t pass under your Will and isn’t included for Inheritance Tax purposes. Sometimes your pension rights can’t be included in your Will so you should check with your pension provider. If you own a property as a joint tenant rather than a tenant in common (you can check with the solicitor who did the conveyancing), then your share of that property will automatically pass to the other owner when you die and won’t be included in your Will.
Q5 Do you have property abroad*?
Yes – This Will Kit is suitable for you, but it is possible that the property that is situated abroad may not be included in your Will. We recommend that you take international legal advice about your foreign property.
No – go to Q6.
* If you live in England and own a property in Scotland or Northern Ireland, the property is considered to be foreign property because it is in a different legal jurisdiction. The same applies if you live in Scotland and own a property in England or Northern Ireland, this property is considered to be foreign property because it is in a different legal jurisdiction. Therefore, you need to take legal advice in the country where the property is situated.
Q6 Do you own a business or share in a business?
Yes – This Kit may be suitable for you, but there may be extra complications that you need to be aware of.
If you run a business on your own (sole proprietor) and you want the business to continue after your death or to pass to one of your beneficiaries, then this Kit is not suitable for you and you should take legal advice.
If you are part of a partnership, this Will Kit may be suitable for you, but there may be complications depending on whether you have a partnership deed or not and whether the partnership can pass under your Will. You should make sure you have checked this before you make your Will.
If you own all or part of a private company, there may be restrictions on who you can transfer shares to. You should make sure you have checked this before you make your Will.
If you own shares in a public company (Plc), then there is no restriction on who you transfer share to and this Kit will be suitable for you.
No – See Q7.
Q7 Are you married or in a civil partnership?
Yes – This Kit is suitable for you.
No – This Kit is suitable for you. It is very important that you make a Will if you are living with someone, as this person may get nothing from your estate if you die without having made a Will. If you have children and you are unmarried you should take legal advice about getting parental responsibility* before you make your Will.
* An unmarried father does not automatically have parental responsibility (the ability to make decisions about their child’s welfare) unless the child was born after 1 December 2003 and the father is named on the birth certificate.
The unmarried mother automatically has parental responsibility. The appointment of a guardian in your Will is only effective after both parents with parental responsibility die. So if the father does not have parental responsibility, it is possible for a mother to name someone in their Will other than the father to be the child’s guardian.
A cost-effective DIY solution: Lawpack’s Last Will & Testament Kit
For nearly 20 years, Lawpack has proved you can write your own Will without it being expensive. Lawpack’s Last Will & Testament Kit gives you the confidence and the tools to follow straightforward steps to make a valid Will without the need for legal advice.
Lawpack’s Last Will & Testament Kit has been approved by a solicitor and will provide you with all the information you need to make a valid Will. There is a step-by-step solicitor-approved Guidance manual on writing a Will and a choice of three ready-to-complete forms for use in England & Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland.
This DIY Kit is a good option for those who want to write their own Will and need a bit of extra legal guidance, but can’t afford to use a lawyer to help them write their Will.