Writing your own will

R_CAB-wideWe don’t always like to think about our own mortality, but that shouldn’t put you off writing a will.

If you have a written will, then what you want to happen when you die is more likely to actually happen, and in the way that you want it to.

R_CAB_aboutIt can also save your family from arguing about what you would have wanted and save them a lot of stress, and potentially save them money too.

If you have lots of assets or complex family relationships then it’s probably worth getting it written professionally .

Otherwise you may be able to write it yourself. You’ll need to be careful how you go about it. If you don’t do it right then there’s a greater risk of it challenged in court later.

A will is essentially a set of instructions about what you want to happen in the event of your death, including whom you want to inherit the things you own. Your will should include:

  • the name of the person or people who will be the executor of your will – the executor’s job is to manage the distribution of your estate (e.g. your house, car and money) when you die;
  • the name of the person or people whom you have appointed as your children’s guardian (if you have children);
  • instructions on how your estate is to be distributed, including the names of those who will receive specific items;
  • any wishes relating to your funeral, whether you wish to be buried or cremated, etc.;
  • a statement that any earlier wills you’ve previously made are revoked.

It’s very important that the will be as clear as possible, to prevent any future disputes about what you wanted.

In order for your will to be legally valid, it needs to be:

  • in writing,
  • witnessed by two people who are not beneficiaries of the will,
  • signed by the witnesses when all three of you are present together and
  • signed by you

You might consider buying a pre-prepared will template to help you write your will. These are usually written by legal professionals and are available online and from some stationery retailers.

If you write your will — even if you used a will template — it’s a good idea to get it checked by a lawyer. They can ensure that it meets all the requirements of a legally valid will, and that it adequately covers your personal situation.

Although the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can’t draft up your will or advise you on the legal validity of your will, we can provide you with general information about Wills. You can also visit your local CAB if you need someone to witness your Will.