Making A Will

Nobody knows for sure what the future holds. Writing a Will, and keeping it up to date, is the best way to address this uncertainty and make sure that you have provided for your loved ones, whatever happens.

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What is a Will?

A Will is an important legal document that sets out how you would like your estate to be managed in the event of your death.

This should include:

  • Who you want to name as executors (the people who will be responsible for managing your estate)
  • Who you would like to take guardianship of your children, if appropriate
  • Who you would like to leave specific property, personal possessions or bequests to
  • Who you would like to inherit the residuary of your estate (everything that’s left)

A Will can also include any wishes for your funeral, though your loved ones will not be legally obliged to comply with these.

In order to be considered valid, a Will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses.

Why should you make a Will?

Making a Will is the only way to ensure that your estate is distributed exactly as you would have chosen.

If you don’t make a Will, or if the Will you leave behind isn’t valid, your estate will need to be distributed as per the intestacy laws. Intestacy laws only benefit close blood relations and married or civil partners. If your Will was to be distributed along these lines, any unmarried partners or step children would not benefit, while a spouse you were separated from would.

Even if you think your situation is straight forward, it is far better to make sure you have properly recorded your wishes in a Will. This could save your loved ones from a great deal of uncertainty after your death.

An experienced solicitor will be able to help direct your assets away from nursing home fees. Writing a Will could also help to ensure your loved ones don’t pay more inheritance tax on your estate than they need to.

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Do you need a living Will?

The term ‘living Will’ is sometimes used to refer to legal documents called advance decisions and advance statements. Advance decisions and advance statements allow you to set out your preferences for medical or life-sustaining treatment in the future.

These documents are particularly helpful if you want to be confident that your wishes would be known in the event that you were unable to communicate them to medical professionals. This situation might arise if you were diagnosed with a condition such as dementia, or if you were unconscious following an accident or medical emergency.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to use an advance decision or advance statement to refuse life-sustaining treatment such as resuscitation, life-support, blood transfusion or transplant. You may also be able to use this type of document to make your preferences clear for the type of medical treatment or care you would like to receive.

If you’re concerned about how to make sure your medical wishes are known in the future, we can advise you on how best to do this. An advance decision or advance statement might be a good solution for you, or a Lasting Power of Attorney might be a better fit. Please get in touch if you would like to talk through your options.

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Help & Expert Guides

Wills Frequently Asked Questions

We understand that this can be a complicated and confusing time. This is why we’ve put together these FAQs to help you know what to expect. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about Making a Will and our Will Writing solicitors will be more than happy to help you. 

We strive to make our services accessible to everyone. If you are visually impaired, we are able to produce Wills and related legal information in Braille, large print, audio and easy-read formats.

Legal documents contain personal information and we take your privacy very seriously. We produce all alternative formats via the ISO approved secure production unit of the Royal National Institute for the Blind.

If you have any questions about this process, or would like to enquire about an alternative format not mentioned here, please get in touch.

In some circumstances, it may be possible to add a ‘codicil’ to an existing Will. A codicil is a document that exists to amend a Will rather than replacing it with a new Will. However, in practice a codicil can often complicate matters. We will be able to advise you on whether it would be best to write a codicil or to produce and sign a new version of your Will.

Before we can work with you to write a Will, we will need to see proof of your identity. You can see a full list of the documents we will need to see.

To write your Will, you will need the full names and addresses of the people you would like to name as executors, guardians or beneficiaries. You will also need a list of any specific assets you would like to bequeath, as well as a good understanding of the extent of your estate.

During the process of writing a Will, you can choose to either meet with us in person or over video call.

Once we have prepared your documents and you are ready to sign them, you will need to sign the original copy in the presence of two witnesses. You can either visit us in the office to do this, or we can post the original copy to your home address. If you sign in the office, we will act as your witnesses. If you sign your Will yourself at home, you will need to arrange for two witnesses to be in attendance while you do this.

An executor is an individual you appoint to administer your Will. They will need to manage the entire process of assessing your estate, paying any creditors, collecting in any debts you are owed, applying for probate and distributing your estate as per your Will.

If you don’t leave a Will, a close family member will need to apply for a Grant of Representation to be named your administrator in order to carry out this role.

If you don’t feel that any of your close family members would be suitable for this role, you can consider other options. You might feel that a friend would be a better fit, though you would need to ensure they were willing to take on this responsibility. Alternatively, you might decide to appoint a professional executor, such as your solicitor.
A Will can include instructions for caring for a pet, though it is not possible to leave money directly to an animal.
A significant change in your circumstances such as a marriage or divorce will affect the validity of any Will you have previously made. If you marry or enter a civil partnership after the date a Will is made, that Will automatically becomes invalid (unless the Will was specifically worded to accommodate the upcoming marriage). If you get divorced, or dissolve a civil partnership, your Will will still be valid, but your former spouse or civil partner will no longer be entitled to act as your executor or inherit from your estate.
We recommend that the original copy of your Will is held professionally. All wills made at Roche Legal include storage, free of charge.
It is not legally necessary to register a Will, though it is good practice to make sure your Will is registered with Certainty. Certainty is the UK’s national Will register and records where original Wills are stored. Registering your Will with Certainty would mean that your relatives would quickly be able to get in touch with the solicitor who is storing your Will if they needed to.
If you are a business owner, it may be wise to take extra precautions when writing your Will in regards to your business interests. An experienced solicitor will be able to advise you on how best to do this.
If you have a connection with a foreign jurisdiction, perhaps because you have assets there or are a foreign national then it’s really important to take specialist advice.

In some cases, we can prepare a Will for you that covers your worldwide assets. In other cases, we may recommend that you make a Will here and a Will in the other jurisdiction.

Making A Will Charges

For much of the work we undertake here at Roche Legal, we can offer a fixed fee. For non-fixed fee work, we charge based on our time spent on your matter in accordance with our hourly rates applicable at the time.

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