- A will makes it much easier for your family or friends to sort everything out when you die – without a will the process can be more time consuming and stressful.
- If you don’t write a will, everything you own will be shared out in a standard way defined by the law – which isn’t always the way you might want.
- A will can help reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax that may be payable on the value of the property and money you leave behind.
- Writing a will is especially important if you have children or other family who depend on you financially, or if you want to leave something to people outside your immediate family.
For more information see What happens if you don't make a will.
Money fitness tip
Save your family unnecessary distress at an already difficult time by making a will.
Your wishes and who carries them out
Your will tells people two very important things:
- Who should have your money, property and possessions when you die
- Who will be in charge of organising your estate and following the instructions you leave in your will – this person is called your ‘executor’, and you can name more than one person if you want to.
You can also use your will to tell people about any other wishes you have, like instructions for your burial or cremation. Your executor will do their best to make sure your wishes are followed, as long as they don’t involve breaking the law.
It might not always be possible to follow your instructions.
For example, a person you want to leave something to might die before you do, but if you have a will there’s a better chance of things happening in the way you want. For more information see Choosing an executor.
Make sure your will is legally valid
Your will doesn’t have to be on special paper or use a lot of legal language. A document is a valid will as long as it:
- Says how your estate should be shared out when you die
- Was made when you were able to make your own decisions and you weren’t put under pressure about who you leave things to.
- Is signed and dated by you in the presence of two adult, independent witnesses, and then signed by the two witnesses in your presence – the witnesses can’t be people who are going to inherit anything from you (or their husband/wife or civil partner).
How to start making a will
If your family is small and you want to leave everything to them, making your will is fairly straightforward.
If your situation is more complicated – for example, if you have a second family or you want to leave money and gifts to lots of people – you’ll need to plan more carefully.
Either way, don’t put it off – make sure that what you leave behind passes to the people you intended.
Step 1 - Make a plan
Start by thinking about what you want to leave to whom and then talk to your family – they may have some suggestions you haven’t thought of. Once you have a plan look at the different options for making a will.
Money fitness tip
Make sure you tell your immediate family where your will is stored and update your details on JPA.
Step 2 - Get your will written
There are a number of ways you can get a will written. The best option for you depends on how complicated your wishes are:
- a simple will - can cost between £144 and £240
- a complex will – can cost between £150 and £300. It may be more complex as you have been divorced and have children
- a specialist will – that involves trusts or oversea properties, or you want tax planning advice – expect to pay a minimum of £500 to £600 according to Which?
If your affairs are simple and straightforward, you can use the free MoD will form, or you can buy a template document in stationery shops for as little as £10.
See Writing a will – your options for more information.
Storing your will
Your will should be kept safe and off your premises. There is no legal requirement to store your will with a government department or registry office, and it is up to you to decide on the best place to store it. But wherever you store it, make sure you keep a copy and tell your immediate family where it is. You should also update your details on JPA.
don't put it off!
No-one wants to think about the worst happening but you are not MoneyFit if you don’t have a will.
You can store your will with
- the MOD in Glasgow (via your unit HR)
- your bank
- a solicitor
- at a storage facility dedicated for Wills, or
- at the Principal Probate Registry
Other than the MOD storage, which is free, there will probably be a small annual charge for most of these options.
Updating your will
You should review your will every five years and after any major change in your life, eg:
- getting married, separated or divorced
- having a child
- moving house
- if the executor named in the will dies
Everyone should have a will - so what are you waiting for!