Making a Will

Making a Will

At Kaur Wills Bristol, we are your trusted professional partners in will writing and estate planning. As much as we would love to help everyone to write their Will we know that not everyone requires a solicitor or will writing service to complete it.

Kaur Wills makes the Law act In YOUR Favour...

We provide the answers to all of the “What if…” questions you have – and probably a lot more that you’ve never even thought of. We are here to protect you and your family completely from harm.

It might sound daunting – but we promise we will make it as simple and easy for you as possible – and when we are finished you will have Peace of Mind, like never before.

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How Can You Make Your Will?

Making your Will

At Kaur Wills Bristol, we are your trusted professional partners for making a will and estate planning. As much as we would love to help everyone to write their Will we know that not everyone requires a solicitor or will writing service to complete it.

In the following article, we describe the various ways you can have your will written. Discover how to go about making a will, who can help you create it or if you can write it yourself. We also set out the pros and cons of doing it yourself

Lets start with the questions our clients often ask – how do I begin when making a will?

If you are thinking about making a will, you could choose whether to do it yourself or seek help from a professional. The best option (right option) for you will depend on how complex your affairs are, the size of your estate and how much assistance you’re likely to need. 

We explain your options for doing it yourself, using a will specialist, or hiring a solicitor below.

Making a will does not necessarily have to be a complex legal document. A will can be made on a single sheet of paper and follow any format, provided it is signed by you and witnessed as required by the law.

But beware. An invalid will, or one with confusing or conflicting instructions, could be challenged in court. This, sadly, can often cause family conflict, and inflict the stress and expense of a legal wrangle on your loved ones. As in everything in life, the cheapest option is rarely the best option.

With that thought, it’s worth bearing in mind the following points for creating a valid, legally binding will that minimizes the potential for a challenge.

Here are four simple steps for making a will

The original version of your will must be signed by witnesses, and free from errors or changes. You should have two witnesses. The witnesses must be present with you and must watch you sign the will in person. If one of them is out of the room when you sign, your will risks being found invalid.

In England and Wales, you must have two witnesses over 18, while in Scotland, you require one over 16. Witnesses should not be beneficiaries of the will. They should not inherit anything as beneficiaries, although they can be named as executors. If your will leaves anything to a witness, the whole document could be deemed invalid in the event of a challenge.

The executors are the people that shall carry out your wishes in accordance with your will. It is god practice to name more than one executor (or one executor and a substitute). These can be anyone you trust, but it’s most common to pick a friend, relative or solicitor. It should be obvious, but you should appoint executors who are likely to be around after your death. That means your 96 year old uncle may not be a good choice as executor.

In most cases having a friend or someone you trust (who is not a witness to the signing of the will) are a good choice as executor as there will not be a fee for executing your will.
It’s worth making the point that non-professional executors are preferable, as solicitors can charge hundreds or thousands of pounds. However, if your estate is quite large and complex, it may be advisable to seek professional help to administer your estate, they can commission probate services.

To be clear, executors can also inherit from your estate as beneficiaries, as long as they are not witnesses to the signing of the document.

There are low cost or even free will writing services available. If you opt for a free will-writing service, take the time to make sure you understand it thoroughly, as well as any implications. Several charities offer a free will writing service under the condition that you make them a benefactor in the will. So although they appear free – there is usually a clause. Caveat emptor!

There are other free or low cost alternatives. For instance, solicitors might write the will for free, but name themselves as executors of your estate, leading to associated costly legal fees for their service. This could, or more accurately will eat into your dependents’ inheritances.

When you are putting together the document, do not leave any blank spaces, and make sure each page is numbered to prevent anyone tampering with your will.

Do not make any changes on the document. There should be no amendments, changes or anything crossed out in the document that you sign. If you want to change your will at a later date, you’ll need to make a codicil. A codicil is an additional document that describes any changes you’d like to make, signed and witnessed in the same way as your will (although not necessarily witnessed by the same people as the original will).

Ensure that the instructions you leave are clear and easy to understand. Make your wishes easy to follow by anyone reading in the future because you won’t be around to explain your reasoning. 

Be aware that your will can cover a wide number of situations, from who will inherit your assets to who will look after your children.

Before you begin writing your will, it’s worth spending a little time identifying all the assets you own or have a financial interest in, as well as any personal or sentimental items you would like to leave to your loved ones. 

If you have young children, you should also work out arrangements for your children’s care and financial needs. Who would raise your children in your absence? It is a huge responsibility to pass on and one that you should give careful consideration to.
Then finally, have you considered whether you’d like to leave any specific instructions for your funeral?

No matter how thorough your will is, there’s likely to be part of your estate that isn’t accounted for. It’s difficult to account for everything you own – whether of great financial value or just sentimental. As such, it is worth including a ‘residuary gift’, that sets out who will inherit anything else not otherwise specifically given away by you in the will.

This residuary gift clause can also be useful in the event that one of the heirs you name dies before you do. There are certainly other examples where the clause is justified, but this is the obvious one.

If the will doesn’t have a residuary gift, the remainder of the estate will be divided up according to the laws of intestacy (the law that covers your estate in the event that you die without making a will).

Having a solicitor write your will

Most solicitors can write the document for you, make sure it is binding and everything is in order. But do you need one? It depends…

This is likely to be the most expensive option for writing your will, but it could potentially save your family on an inheritance bill, and will certainly provide peace of mind.

The main benefit of using a solicitor is that you can discuss exactly what you want the will to achieve – and they’ll be know the right questions to ask to help avoid any ambiguities. 

It may be worth considering using a solicitor if any of the following apply to your estate or conditions:

  • If it is likely that your estate will have to pay inheritance tax. Currently this applies if your assets are worth more than £325,000
  • If your family circumstances are complicated – perhaps you have former partners, or children from a previous marriage
  • If you have a family member or friend with special needs, and who you’d like to be sure is protected after you’ve gone
  • If you have assets that could be subject to complex rules, such as overseas property or business interests.
  • If you have complex business interests. Maybe you have business partners or co-shareholders?

As well as helping with the writing of the will, your solicitor will usually store it safely for you for free.

There is additional peace of mind form using a good solicitor. All solicitors are qualified and regulated by a governing professional body. As such you or your dependents will be able to seek compensation if any problems arise with the will as a result of negligence or any wrong-doing on the solicitors behalf. The regulating bodies depend on where you live:

  • England and Wales – Solicitors Regulation Authority
  • Scotland – the Scottish Law Society
  • Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland Law Society.

You can expect to pay several hundred pounds to hire a solicitor to write your will. The exact cost will depend on the complexity of your affairs. 

If your assets and estate is complex, a good solicitor should be able to help you or advise you to consider putting assets into trust. The legal fees to do so will probably be higher these cases. But will trusts could significantly cut your estate’s inheritance tax bill.

The half-way option. Using a will-writing service

If you don’t necessarily want to pay for a solicitors fees, but would like some guidance on making your will, you could consider using a will-writing service. 

You’ll get more help and advice than if you do it yourself, and it will be cheaper than instructing a solicitor. This option may be the best if your circumstances are relatively straightforward. But if your circumstances are more complex, like some of the earlier mentioned cases, then you may require a solicitor’s expertise.

Note that not all will writers are qualified or regulated. It is a good to make sure that they are a member of a recognised trade body, such as the Institute of Professional Will Writers or the Society of Will Writers. Current members of these professional bodies will have indemnity insurance, up to at least £2m, so you’ll have recourse to make a claim for compensation if something goes wrong.

A word of warning! You should be aware of the free will-writing services, or companies that insist on the sole right to execute your will after you pass away. In some cases, companies may then later charge expensive fees to administer probate. 

The fees cared by Will-writing services often start at around £80, and will rise to a few hundred pounds in some cases. The costs will often depend on the complexity of your estate, and the expertise of the will writing company you hire.

Like everything else, it is a good idea to seek a few quotes. If one company is much cheaper or more expensive than the others, you should probably ask yourself why this is. 

And now for the most frequently asked question. How much does a will cost?

Whether you decide to go to a solicitor, will writer or a specialist will writing expert, simple wills can start from about £80 and go up to several hundred pounds and more.

Lets look at the case where you and a spouse or partner want essentially the same (mirror) wills. In this case the costs are usually less if you have them written at the same time.

If however, you want or require a more specialist will – for example, one that includes trusts – you should expect for the costs associated to increase. You could expect to pay a minimum of £500 to £600.

Once you have made your will, you will have to decide where to store it. You have several options, depending on your preference. Which ever option you decide upon, it’s vital that the will document is stored safely and securely. It is also vital that the will can be accessed by the executor(s) when the time comes, so you’ll need to tell them where it is.

If you opt for a solicitor, wills storage company or your bank, remember to ask if there are any fees if you need to access the will to make changes, or for the executor when they obtain the will after you pass away. 

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Why Choose Us?

Honest, Expert Will Solicitors in Bristol

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Personalised Will Writing Service

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