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We spend our lives working to provide for ourselves and our loved ones. You may have a house or flat (in the UK or overseas), shares, savings, investments as well as your personal possessions. All of these assets are your 'estate'. Making a will ensures that when you die your estate is shared according to your wishes.
Everyone should have a will, but it is even more important if you have children, you own property or have savings, investments, insurance policies or you own a business.
The Law Society awards law firms that meet the highest standards of expertise and client service in wills and inheritance law with its quality mark. Look out for it on Find a Solicitor search results.
Find out about wills and inheritance accreditation
If you die without a valid will, you have no say in what happens to your estate. Instead, the 'Rules of Intestacy' will divide your estate in a pre-determined way and this may not be to people who you wished to benefit. It also may not be carried out in the most tax-efficient way.
If you live with someone, even if you are married, are in a civil partnership or have step-children, they may not automatically inherit your estate.
If you were born, or have significant, long-term residential or business connections outside England and Wales, this may have tax and administration implications. A solicitor can advise you about these complex issues and how it could affect your will.
First, you must list what you have in your estate, then you can decide how your estate is to be shared between beneficiaries (who gets what). You also need to think about:
Trying to make your own will, without legal assistance, can lead to mistakes or lack of clarity and could mean that your will is invalid. If you have a number of beneficiaries and your finances are complicated, it is even more important that you get a professionally trained solicitor to create your will. This makes it easier for those you leave behind.
Once you have written your will you should review it regularly to make sure it reflects your wishes, especially if you:
To find a solicitor who can help you with making your will, visit the Law Society's Find a Solicitor website and use the quick search option "Wills and probate" to find your nearest solicitor.
Choosing a law firm that is a member of the Law Society's Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme means that your solicitor will meet the high standards for wills and probate services set by the Law Society. You will also be using a specialist legal professional who is regulated and insured, unlike most other will-writing services.
An information leaflet on wills and probate is available in the following formats:
We can make the information in this leaflet available in other formats and selected languages on request. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
While we have made every effort to provide accurate information, the law is always changing and affects each person differently. This information is no substitute for specific advice about you personally and we will not be liable to you if you rely on this information.