Half of Britons have not made a will, leaving them with no control over what will happen to their assets after they die, new research from Will Aid has revealed.
Over a third (35%) of those without a will have children aged under 18, meaning they have no legal say in who would look after their children if they died.
While young people are the least likely to have written a will, 19% of those aged over 55 have also neglected to make one, the charity’s research reveals.
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Why do I need to write a will?
Creating a will is essential if you want to have a say in what happens to your belongings, property and money after you die. You can name guardians for any dependent children and make provisions for their care after your death. A properly drafted will can even help you to keep your inheritance tax liability to a minimum.
Without a will, there’s no guarantee that your assets will go where you want them to, or that your loved ones will be provided for.
Which? wills expert Ian Robinson explains: ‘If you die without a will, your estate will be distributed according to pre-set rules known as the rules of intestacy, which may not produce the outcome you wanted.
‘It’s important to write a will if you have children, and especially so if you’ve remarried and have children from a previous marriage. In short, making a will allows you to state where you’d like your assets to end up, rather than just hoping for the best.’
- Find out what happens if you die intestate
How to make a will
You have a few different options when it comes to making a will, which we’ve explained below.
Writing your own will
Many people choose to create a will themselves. The biggest advantage to this is the money it saves you, although you’ll need to be careful not to make any mistakes or invalidate it in any way.
Which? Wills allows you to create a will, or a set of mirror wills for you and a partner, in just a few quick steps. If at any point you need to change your will, you can use our service to create a codicil – a simple document which allows you to make minor updates without having to start again from scratch.
If you’d like a professional pair of eyes to check over your finished will, we also offer an expert legal review service where our wills experts will check for any errors, inconsistencies or points that need clarification.
- Learn more about the different services available from Which? Wills
Using a solicitor or will-writing company
If you’re not comfortable making a will on your own, you can enlist the help of a solicitor or a will-writing company.
Solicitors are fully qualified and regulated in will-writing, and will often offer store the finished will for you free of charge.
Will-writing companies do not have to be regulated or qualified, so if you go for this option it’s worth checking whether they’re a member of a recognised trade body such as the Institute of Professional Willwriters or the Society of Will Writers.
Using a bank to write your will
Some banks will offer to help you make a will, though they’ll often have high charges for performing the role of executor (sometimes up to 5% of the value of the estate) – so be sure to check the terms and conditions before you go ahead.
You can ask to appoint a friend or relative as your executor instead, though not all banks will allow this.
- Find out more about your options when making a will