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Making a will

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    Why do I need a will?

    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.

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    What happens if I die without a will?

    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.

    What is domicile and why is it important?

    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.

    How do I make a will and why should I use a solicitor?

    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:

    • what happens if any of your beneficiaries die before you do
    • who will look after your children (if you have any)
    • who should carry out the wishes contained in your will (your executor)
    • any other wishes you may have, for example whether you want to be buried or cremated.

    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.

    When should I update my will?

    Once you have written your will you should review it regularly to make sure it reflects your wishes, especially if you:

    • get married / enter a civil partnership as a will is automatically cancelled by these events
    • get divorced
    • have children or other relatives you wish to benefit, for example nieces, nephews or grandchildren
    • have bought a new property or have recently obtained expensive assets (such as buying a new car)

    How do I find a solicitor to help make my will?

    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:


    Alternative formats

    We can make the information in this leaflet available in other formats and selected languages on request. Please email accessibility@lawsociety.org.uk for more information.

    Disclaimer

    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.