Making a will - everything you need to know

Preparation

Our interview will help you through the steps you need to take when choosing Bequeathed to make your will. But even before we start there are several things to think about. A good first step is to look through our Preparing a will page, which sets out some of the most important things for you to consider before starting your will. You’ll see that there’s a lot more that you can do with your will than simply deciding who will inherit your savings. Even if you’re not intending to appoint guardians for your children, or create trusts to protect your assets into the future, it is definitely worth considering the options you have available.

Our Estate value page helps you understand the total value of the assets you can include in your will. This doesn’t just include the assets you own at the time of your death, but also those caught by the Seven-year rule – gifts made in the last seven years before your death.

For many of your assets, calculating their value may be straightforward. However, for any property or valuable personal possession you own you may need to obtain a professional valuation. You can find more advice in our Value of assets, property and personal possessions page.

Our Will checklist - information you need to hand page will help make sure that you have everything you need to go through our interview.

What to include?

At some point you need to work out who you would like to benefit from your estate. Our Beneficiaries page will talk you through who can benefit from a will, as well as explaining the safeguards you should consider in case a gift fails for any reason.

Should you think about using a Letter of wishes alongside your will? A letter of wishes is a useful way to communicate your wishes to your family and executors about how you want things to be managed. It can be used for setting out funeral wishes, give lots of personal gifts, or set out your preferences for your children’s upbringing.

Making a will

Once you’ve decided what to include in your will, and who you would like to benefit, it's time to get started. Using our online interview is very straightforward for you to use on your own. But if you are taking the perfectly natural step of asking a relative or friend to help you, take a look at our Drafting a will page, where we mention a couple of points that you should bear in mind.

Remember that getting a draft of your will does not make it a legal document. Before it comes into effect you must have it signed and witnessed. It’s essential to be aware of the legal requirements, especially Who can witness a will?, as a mistake can leave your will open to being challenged, or invalid from the start. Our page Signing a will – getting it right will help you to ensure that your will is signed correctly, and less likely to be challenged after your death.

(If a term is in bold, that means it's in our Glossary.)

Select an article:

Preparing a will

Properly preparing to make a will helps ensure the final document accurately represents your wishes

Will checklist - information you need to hand to make your will

Our downloadable will checklist makes taking our interview is as easy as possible

Estate value - why it is important

The value of your estate helps you to decide how to share your property and reduce tax

Value of assets, property and personal possessions

Valuing your assets, property and personal possessions early can have advantages for you and your executors

Letter of wishes

A letter of wishes is a guide to help your executors administer your estate

Beneficiary - who would you like to benefit from your estate?

Choose the people and organisations you want to be your beneficiaries, and how they are to receive their gift.

Joint property ownership - when does it form part of your estate?

Joint property ownership is an important factor in how your property will pass under your will 

Drafting a will

As a will can be drafted in several different ways it is important to feel comfortable with your choice

What happens to your pension if you die?

Your pension may form part of your estate, but there are important exceptions and inheritance tax implications

What happens to debt when you die?

When you die, your debts or liabilities are usually deducted from your estate

Seven-year rule - gifts made in the last seven years

Inheritance tax may be due on gifts you make in the years before your death

Digital assets and estate planning

Digital assets have a complicated legal status and you need to plan for that

Holographic will

A holographic (handwritten) will may be quick but the risks outweigh the benefits

Deathbed will

A deathbed will can be created hastily, but there is a risk of uncertainty and legal challenge

Signing a will - getting it right

Take care to signing your will correctly

Who can witness a will?

Anyone can witness a will provided they are at least 18 and independent of the person making the will

Will storage

To store a will effectively it must be safe, undamaged, and easily accessible to your executors