Writing will (order an essay inexpensively)

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Making a will

Your will lets you decide what happens to your money, property and possessions after your death.

If you make a will you can also make sure you don’t pay more Inheritance Tax than you need to.

You need to get your will formally witnessed and signed to make it legally valid.

If you want to update your will, you need to make an official alteration (called a ‘codicil’) or make a new will.

If you die without a will, the law says who gets what.

How to Write My Own Will

Writing your own will is a relatively straightforward process if your assets and bequests are also straightforward. In these circumstances, as long as you comply with the laws of your state, your will is likely to stand up in a court of law and be executed according to your wishes. You can easily write your own will through one of two methods: either draft it yourself on a computer or typewriter, or create one through an online program.

Writing your own will is a relatively straightforward process if your assets and bequests are also straightforward. In these circumstances, as long as you comply with the laws of your state, your will is likely to stand up in a court of law and be executed according to your wishes. You can easily write your own will through one of two methods: either draft it yourself on a computer or typewriter, or create one through an online program.

Write the introduction to the will. Start by clearly labeling the document “Last Will and Testament.” Next, state your full name and address, and testify that you are over the age of 18, are of sound mind and are not making the will under duress. Finally, write that this is your last will and testament, and that it revokes any previously made will or codicil. You may want to include your social security number and birth date for clarity. If you are using an online program, the program should automatically generate this introduction.

Select an executor. An executor is the person who carries out the directions of your will. Most married people name their spouse as the executor; however, it is also common to name a capable friend. Talk to this person about his willingness to take on this responsibility before officially naming him as executor. Also choose an alternate executor in the event that your first choice is unwilling or unable to perform his duties upon your death.

Identify your heirs. Normally, your spouse, life partner and children are the primary beneficiaries; however, you may want to make provisions for other persons. Be sure to clearly identify these persons so that there is no ambiguity as to their identities. Also, note that in most states the spouse has a legal right to inherit. Seek professional legal advice if you reside in one of these states and want to disinherit your spouse.

Name a guardian for any minor or dependent children. If your children are of an age where they still require guardianship and have no other natural parent to take care of them, choose a person to take care of your children until they reach the age of majority. Be sure to discuss this responsibility with the person that you would like to name, as this is a weighty commitment that could last for many years. If you do not choose a person, the court will appoint one for you.

Assess and divide your property. List your assets, including real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, bonds and tangible assets, then assign your heirs a percentage of your total assets. For example, you might say that your wife is to receive 50 percent of your assets, while both your children will receive 25 percent each. You can also make individual bequests of specific pieces of property or cash amounts to individuals other than your named heirs. Note that assets that already have a designated beneficiary or are jointly-owned are not considered part of your estate.

Sign the will. If you have created a will through an online program, have the document sent to you before signing sign it. Some states require that your signature be notarized, meaning signed in the presence of a public notary and stamped with the notary’s seal.

Ask witnesses to sign the will. Every state requires at least two witnesses to sign the will, and some states require three. The witnesses usually must not be named beneficiaries in the will. Take care to carefully follow the laws of your state with regard to witnesses, as a mistake can invalidate your entire will.

10 Steps to Writing a Will

Follow this blueprint to ensure your loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone.

By Geoff Williams, Contributor | Sept. 19, 2014, at 11:00 a.m.

It may be unpleasant to think about, but crafting a will can help to ensure your possessions are left in the right hands. (Getty Images)

The hardest part of writing a will is often finding the will to write it. After all, it’s a document you hope won’t be used for a long time. By writing it, you’re acknowledging that you may not be immortal. Add in the many other activities that are more fun than writing a will, like going to the beach or hanging out with friends and family, and you have a surefire recipe for procrastination.

If you’ve been putting off the task, here’s your chance to cross it off your list. Get started now, and finish your will in 10 relatively easy steps.

1. Lawyer, online software or do it yourself? Because there are so many opportunities to make mistakes, don’t opt for a DIY will. One of the best examples arguably lies with the late Warren Burger. You’d think a Supreme Court justice would have no problem writing his own will, but he made an array of errors that cost his heirs plenty in legal fees and more than $450,000 in taxes. If you’re firmly in the middle class, you can probably get away with writing a will using a legal online site. But if you are upper-middle class or worth more, you should almost certainly find an estate attorney.

2. Select your beneficiaries. When you die, someone is going to get your money, your house and your boxes of yellowing Mad magazines. You probably won’t have to think long about beneficiaries, unless your family structure is complicated. There will be a place to identify beneficiaries on the form, and if you have an attorney, he or she will write your will for you. But it isn’t a bad idea to first get everything on paper, just for your own thoughts.

3. Choose the executor of your will. This person is tasked with making sure the wishes in your will are carried out, so you’ll want to choose someone who is responsible. “If it’s Uncle Henry, and Uncle Henry is an idiot, you have a problem,” says Ben Neiburger, an elder law attorney at Generation Law Ltd., based in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Neiburger adds that if you designate one of your children as the executor, and your kids don’t get along, that could also be a problem. In the interest of “family harmony,” he says you may want to consider designating a neutral party, like a bank. The job of executor is also difficult work, and even a trusted, smart family member could make a mistake. Your family might get more for their money if you hire an attorney or bank to execute your will.

4. Decide if your executor will receive compensation. If you choose a bank or lawyer as your executor, there will be a fee involved, which is usually between 2 percent and 4 percent of your estate’s assets.

If you’re designating a family member or friend, it’s a good idea to be clear about whether they’ll be compensated and, if so, whether it will be an hourly rate or a percentage of assets. “Oftentimes, people will want to leave it sort of vague, where they have language that allows for reasonable compensation, but that’s loosey-goosey,” Colby says.

Keep in mind that closing an estate can be an arduous, complicated slog. You may have your reasons for not wanting your executor to earn some money closing your estate, but hopefully they’re good reasons.

5. Pick a guardian for your kids. Do you need to get permission from your friend or family member before appointing them guardian? No, you do not, according to Colby Green, a River Forest, Illinois, attorney who specializes in estate planning. But asking is a good idea, because as Green says, “On the flip side, they don’t have to accept it when the time comes.” And if your designated guardian turns down the role, a court will choose the guardian, Colby adds.

6. Be specific about who gets what. If you want your wedding gown to go to your daughter or your antique armoire to go to your son, put that down.

And if someone in your family isn’t going to receive anything, make note of that, too. “Name that person and say that they aren’t getting anything,” Colby advises. “Otherwise, the implication could be that you forgot about them, and you could find your will challenged in court.”

Colby says you may also want to explain in the will why someone isn’t receiving money. For instance, if you’ve given one child a lot of financial assistance as an adult and the other virtually none, you may want to leave the bulk of your assets to the one you didn’t help, Colby says. Explaining that could assuage hard feelings after you’re gone.

7. If there’s more you want to say, attach a letter to the will. In the movies, there’s often a reading of the will where heirs come together and hear who will receive what. That doesn’t happen often in real life. Wills, being legal documents, are often impersonal, although there’s sometimes room for the occasional sentimental or humorous aside. Colby says he has had clients attach personal letters to wills. “You might write a letter to the child or spouse or guardian. You see that a lot with letters to guardians where you express your hopes and desires in how your child would be raised,” he says.

8. Other people need to sign the will. You need witnesses, and in many states, the witnesses can’t be people who stand to inherit anything in the will. Your witnesses also need to be at least 18 years old. And ideally, they should be people who are likely to be around when you aren’t. That’s because if something goes wrong and your will is contested in court, the judge may want a witness to testify.

In some states, you’ll need two witnesses; in others, three. “When wills are signed incorrectly, they can become invalid. As you can imagine, that can be horrible,” says Neiburger, who recalls a client whose boyfriend left her a duplex in Chicago. Because a signature was in the wrong place, she almost didn’t get the two-flat apartment. “After 20,000 dollars in legal fees, we were able to squeeze it free from the courts and get her the property,” Neiburger says.

9. Find a place for your will. Don’t just throw it in a shoe box and forget about it. What if the unthinkable happens and your heirs need it?

Make sure someone you trust knows where to find your will as well as any other important papers and passwords to financial institutions like banks. And it’s probably a good idea to store the original copy somewhere secure, like in a fireproof safe. “I always tell my clients, I don’t want you, your house and your will to burn up at the same time,” Neiburger says.

10. Now that you’re done, you aren’t done. Assuming this is still an unfinished part of your agenda, you should work on a power of attorney and a living will in case you’re ever incapacitated.

You should also think about updating your will every four or five years, Neiburger suggests. “You’ll want to look at it and see if anyone has [ticked] you off or if someone has died,” he says.

Updating the will won’t take long – maybe five minutes, Neiburger says.

Writing a will – your options

Everyone should have a will, and there are several ways of getting yours written. From solicitors to do-it-yourself wills, read what to expect, what you’ll pay, and how to choose what’s right for you.

It’s your choice

You might feel confident writing it yourself, but be careful.

For a will to be valid, you need to meet certain conditions. It’s easy to make a mistake, so be sure you are familiar with the rules. If in doubt speak to an expert.

There are three main options to choose from:

  • use a solicitor
  • use a will writing service
  • do it yourself.

Read on to decide which is best for you – then pick one and get started. But whatever you do, don’t do nothing.

The main will-writing options

Use a solicitor to write your will

Solicitors are the experts – they know their stuff, and they should write you a watertight will that does exactly what you want it to.

It’s the most expensive option, but it will give you most peace of mind, especially if your affairs are complex.

You should definitely consider a solicitor if:

  • your estate may have to pay Inheritance Tax (currently, you might have to pay if your estate’s value (including property) is more than £325,000)
  • you’ve got a complex family situation, like former partners or estranged children, and you want to be sure that your estate can be divided as you wish
  • you want to protect someone’s interests after you’ve gone, like a disabled family member
  • you want to talk through the options with an expert or you need some support you can trust

Expect to pay: A single will, drawn up by a solicitor might cost between £144 and £240. A joint will for couples might cost between £150 and £300. Make sure the cost you’re quoted includes additional costs such as VAT.

If your affairs are complex, such as involving trusts or overseas properties, it can cost between £500 to £600, according to Which?

Use a will-writing service

This is a cheaper option than a solicitor, and offers some support and advice, but its very much a case of getting what you pay for.

If you’re deciding between a will writer and a solicitor, remember that:

  • your will writer won’t necessarily be legally qualified
  • will-writing services might not have been trading as long as many solicitors’ firms – important if you also want them to store your will
  • will writers aren’t regulated in the same way as solicitors, so there’s less comeback for you if things go wrong – so try and use a will writer who’s a member of a professional organisation.

Expect to pay: around £75 and upwards. Extra services, like looking after your will, are often quoted separately. These costs can add up.

Many charities offer free will-writing services but they do hope for a donation. Some are only available to the over 55s and some may not be available near where you live.

For more information, read about cheap and free wills on the MoneySavingExpert website.

Write your own will

The cheapest – and perhaps riskiest way – to write a will is to do it yourself. You can buy templates online or at stationery shops.

This is only really a suitable option if your affairs are very simple. For example, if you’re married or in a civil partnership and have children, and you want to leave everything to the survivor of you on the first death, and your children in, say, equal shares on the second death.

The template should show what you need to do to make sure that it is signed, dated and witnessed properly, and that your old wills are revoked.

It’s important to follow these rules, otherwise there is a risk that your home-made will will be invalid.

The law about inheritances and how they’re taxed can be complex and things might change between when you write your will and when you die. That makes it risky to write your own will without any advice at all. But you can do it if you want to.

Expect to pay: as little as £10 for a basic template.

How to Write a Will

Need to know how to write a will that will clearly reflect your wishes

after your death and will be legally binding? With our very clear guidelines below it need not be a daunting task either.

It’s never too soon! Ensuring your loved ones are taken care of as only you can best determine how, should be high on anybody’s list of priorities.

Unfortunately a large number of people die without a will (intestate), leaving it up to the courts to make decisions on their behalf.

Many people do not need a lawyer to draft a basic will. If your circumstances are such that you will not leave a very large estate behind, and the beneficiaries are fairly straightforward, it is a simple matter to show you how to write a will.

We have a variety of free last will and testament forms that can be used as sample documents to compile your will.

Incidentally, you should also make a new will when any of your circumstances change, such as the birth of a child, divorce, change of property, moving to a new address etc.

Free Last Will and Testament Templates and Related Free Legal Forms:

Will Form – For married people with minor children

Will and Testament – For married people with adult children

Last Will and Testament Form – For married people with adult and minor children

Family Wills – Setting up a Testamentary Trust for minors and family members who need asset protection

(Single people with minor children can also use a trust structure)

Testamentary Trust – How to create one, when it comes into effect and trustee duties

Will and Testament Form – For married people without children

Legal Will – For a single person without children

Free Will Form – For a single person with adult children

Legal Wills – Guidelines for unmarried partners

Affidavit of Domicile – To attest to the residence of a person at the time of death

Living Will – Guidelines for this document

Living Will Form – Your advance health directive template

Digital Assets – Guidelines on how to manage them after you pass away

Social Media Will – Free template to give instructions to your digital executor

Disinherit – Definition of the term and how to disinherit a child or spouse

Contesting a Will – Who can do it, on what grounds and the function of a no-contest clause

Legal Wills – Frequently Asked Questions

In showing you how to write a will, we will cover the requirements basic to any will. It is best to do your draft and then final will on a computer where you can amend it from time to time – the printout will then be witnessed and/or notarized. A holographic will (handwritten will) needs to conform to certain requirements too and is not legal in every territory.

In the past codicils were added to wills to reflect changes – rather than retyping sometimes lengthy documents. These codicils also had to be witnessed and/or notarized and could be confusing. It is much easier nowadays to amend the will electronically and produce a new complete document.

How to write a will: A step-by-step guide

1. Document Title

2. Declaration

  • You are of legal age to make will and are of sound mind and memory;
  • This is your last will and testament, revoking all previously made wills and codicils;
  • You are not under duress or undue influence to make this will.

Note: In giving your personal details, be as complete as possible – add any identification numbers, maiden names etc.

3. Name an Executor and/or Trustee

People typically name the remaining spouse or main beneficiary of the estate as executor. This makes good sense, since they have knowledge of the assets and the interest to see to a speedy wrap-up of the estate and the probate process. A competent friend may also be nominated, but you should discuss their willingness to do this duty with them first.

You should also name an alternate executor should your first choice not be available or willing at the time. If you do not specifically name an executor in your will, the courts will appoint one and executor’s fees may be payable.

Get more information on choosing an executor and the duties of an

And then the very important other person.

If you will be drafting a Testamentary Trust Will, you will need to nominate a trustee – if it is not the same person as the executor.

There’s quite a bit of information you need to explore on this which we also cover in detail, starting with the page on Family Wills and Trusts.

4. Name a Guardian for your Minor Children

If your children are of the age that they require guardianship and there is no remaining natural parent to take care of them, you should name a legal guardian in your will or the court will appoint one. This is probably the most important clause for parents in determining how to write a will.

Have a serious discussion with your choice of guardian to confirm that he / she is prepared to take on this duty, before naming him / her in your will. If your choice is a stable married couple, state both their names. Unlike temporary guardianship a legal guardian may be responsible for your children for a long time and must be chosen with care.

Guidelines for choosing a guardian, can assist you in naming a legal guardian in your will.

5. Details of Beneficiaries

In most cases a spouse has a right to inherit. Should you disinherit your spouse and it is contested in court, your will may be overruled. You need to consult with an attorney to get information and advice if you do not want your spouse to inherit.

6. Details of Your Assets

An important part of how to write a will, is to distinguish between estate assets that are already assigned to beneficiaries in the event of your death and those that are not.

Assets that are not part of a will, may be any policies where you have already specified a beneficiary, joint ownership or joint tenancy of property, payable-on-death bank accounts, trusts etc. (If a policy does not have a beneficiary named, it becomes part of the estate and can attract executor’s fees.)

If you have assets in a different country, you should make a separate will specifically for that country and exclude those assets from the will made in your home country. Every country has different inheritance laws and taxes and lumping all assets together can create serious problems and delays. You should investigate how to write a will for foreign assets.

7. How to Write a Will to cover Specific Bequests

Under the heading “BEQUESTS” you could name persons or organizations whom you wish to inherit specific property or cash sums. In the clause thereafter, you will state the following: Apart from the items listed in # above, I bequeath the remainder of my assets to .

You can express your wishes on whether to be cremated, buried or have your remains disposed of in any other way, as long as your wishes do not contravene any laws in your state or country. Your last will and testament is not the document to specify how you wish to receive treatment in a medical crisis. Please refer to our Living Will page for more information.

You have to sign your will in the joint presence of witnesses, since they will in fact be witnessing (see) that you are indeed the signatory of the will and under no duress to do so. The actual date and place of the signing must be recorded and it is recommended that you sign every page of the will.

A minimum of two witnesses in most states and countries (3 in Vermont) are required to witness the signing of your will. Their full names, addresses and signatures should be on the document.

The witnesses have to sign in the presence of the person making the will.

You must add a declaration that they witnessed your signature, that they are legal adults and of sound mind and that they consider you of sound mind, adult age and under no duress or undue influence to sign your will. The date and place of their signing (same as yours) must be recorded.

Note: It may not be a requirement in your jurisdiction for the witnesses to sign in one another’s presence. Practically though, it does not take long for the will maker and witnesses to complete their signatures whilst all being present at the same time. Our last will and testament templates have the witness attestation worded as such. If your witnesses will not be signing in one another’s presence, you will need to amend their declaration accordingly.

Important Note: The witnesses must not be beneficiaries of your will in any way whatsoever.

My advice to anyone trying to leave property in Puerto Rico by will is to find a member of the Puerto Rico bar to draw up the will, (because of the particular administrative requirements in Puerto Rico) and not to rely on U.S. rules or lawyers.

11. Numbered Paragraphs

An important part of how to write a will or any legal document is to number the paragraphs in order. This is a simple way to confirm that the document is complete with no missing pages or additional pages inserted.

12. Should You have your Will Notarized

A final optional part – compulsory in Louisiana, and always advisable – of how to write a will is to have your will notarized. The signing process will be done in the presence of a notary public or commissioner of oath and the identity of the testator must be proven (photo identification must be provided). If so duly notarized, the will becomes Self Proving during probate.

13. How to Cater for Your Online Accounts

The easiest is to just reference your Social Media Will as an addendum to or in your Last Will and Testament document. The details of all your online accounts need not be made public – in fact, that’s the last thing you would want to do.

We are making it even easier for your with our NEW APP Release! With the app you will be able to securely add your online account details (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, eMails etc.) with instructions to your executor on how you want those acounts finalised when you pass away. Go to our EndExec page to register your email address and get advance notice of this App release.

Related Government Sites

The information on this site can show you how to write a will and provides a free will form, but if you wish to make a complex will or need help with estate planning and asset protection, you should seek professional guidance.

4 Things You Should Know Before You Make Your Own Will

About two-thirds of Americans don’t have a written will, according to a 2015 survey by Rocket Lawyer. For most people, it’s something they put off or haven’t gotten around to yet. Age, unsurprisingly, is also a factor. The 2015 survey found only 30% of Americans aged 45-54 had a will, while 46% of those aged 55 to 64 had one.

That makes sense if you consider that assets tend to increase as you age. If you have neither children nor any assets to speak of, and you’re comfortable having your closest blood relative — a parent or sibling — receive your property outright, then you can probably get away without having a will, says Alexander Bove, a lawyer and adjunct professor of law at Boston University Law School.

Not that he recommends it. For one thing, the definition of closest blood relative and the process for dividing your assets can vary dramatically by state. Legal site Nolo.com provides information on what’s involved in each state’s succession laws, known as intestacy statutes — the rules that govern what happens to your property if you die without a will.

So if you’ve got plans for any of your assets, it can be worth the time and effort to develop some sort of plan, and get it all in writing — even if you don’t hire a lawyer. “I’d rather have a DIY will because at least gives the beneficiary named a fighting chance. If you die without a will, it doesn’t matter what your wishes were,” says Leiha Macauley, an estate planning attorney with Day Pitney in Boston.

1. Understand Your State Rules

If you are going the DIY route, you’ll need to research your state’s laws. The rules can be quirky: Handwritten wills may not require any witnesses, for instance — but only half of states accept these wills as binding. A newly drafted, typed will now requires two witnesses’ signatures to be valid, wherever you are — but an older typed will that was executed in a state like Vermont or Georgia, which used to require three witnesses, will be subject to the old requirements unless it is updated.

You may also want to know if your state has an estate or inheritance tax and how to plan for it. About six states impose an inheritance tax, to be paid by any heirs who live in that state, while a dozen states impose an estate tax, which gets paid on your overall assets. (That’s on top of the federal estate tax, which affects only the wealthiest estates.) For instance, if you are dividing assets evenly between heirs, and one lives in a state with an inheritance tax, you’ll need to decide whether to set aside additional assets to cover the tax hit.

2. Designate Beneficiaries

A will won’t cover all of your assets. “A lot of people make up a will thinking it disposes of the whole estate. But it doesn’t,” Bove says. Anything that’s in joint name or payable to a named beneficiary, such as life insurance policies or 401(k) balances, is outside the scope of a will, he says.

Before you even start a will, you should assign beneficiaries for as many accounts as possible, Macauley says.

You can also create transfer-on-death or payable-on-death designations for checking, savings, and money market accounts, as well as certificates of deposit and U.S. bonds. For example, Vanguard allows investors to enroll in transfer-on-death benefits through a form in which you provide information about you, the eligible account, and the beneficiary contact information. You should also be able to set up a payable-on-death account — which lets your beneficiary collect the funds without having to go through probate court — at your bank, or add designations to existing accounts. The requirements vary by institution, though, so it’s worth making a call to find out what’s needed.

Almost all states also allow you to name someone that will inherit any stocks, bonds or brokerage balances upon your death. And over a dozen states allow you to set up transfer-on-death stipulations for vehicles and real estate.

Once you’ve taken care of beneficiary forms and checked out your state law, write out your intentions. A few guidelines:

  • Use the right language. You need to spell out who you are and the purpose of the document. Statements like “I declare that this is my last will and testament” and “I declare that I am of legal age to make this will, and that I am sound of mind” are not just for the movies. They’re critical to ensuring your will is taken seriously by your heirs and the courts, according to the New York County Lawyers’ Association.
  • Be specific. If you are using a will to pass on your house, for instance, include the full address when identifying the property. For personal items, include a complete description. And use the full names of beneficiaries, rather than just referring to them as “my wife” or “my child.”.
  • Name an executor you trust — and tell them where to find your will. This is the person who will be wrapping up your affairs after your death and eventually distributing your assets. The American Bar Association recommends naming a secondary executor or a co-executor, in case your first choice is unable to carry out the task or predeceases you.
  • Appoint a guardian for minor children. For each child, you should name one person as a guardian and another as an alternate, says Bove. It’s perfectly legal (but not necessary) to pick different guardians for each child. The Massachusetts Volunteer Lawyers Project has a form that can help you appoint a guardian in case of your death.
  • Spell out contingencies. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of a DIY will is thinking through all the contingencies, Macauley says. Say you’re leaving everything to your sister. But what if your sister predeceases you: Do you want the property to pass to her children? Or do you want to go to your other siblings? Describe the contingencies for each portion of your will.

While a DIY will is better than nothing, lawyers argue that a professionally drafted document can do far more to protect your heirs — particularly if the beneficiaries you’d choose aren’t those provided by your state’s intestacy law.

It might even cost less than you’d imagine. While a handwritten will won’t cost you a penny, in most states, a fill-in-the-blank formatted will, downloaded from a site like LegalZoom, will set you back about $100 — while a will drafted by an attorney can cost, on average, only about $375, says LegalZoom. (For a larger, more complex estate, with federal estate tax considerations and specific trusts or entities such as family limited partnerships, the price tag will be $1,000 or more — but complex estates should not be relying on DIY wills in the first place.)

And at many firms, Macauley says, a will is billed as a flat fee, rather than an hourly rate. So if cost is a concern, you can call ahead to ask what the fees are.

Don’t know where to start? Many bar associations, including the Boston and New York Bar Associations, offer a lawyer referral services. Under such programs, lawyers have agreed to provide initial half-hour consultations that are generally free or cost less than $50.

Paying a bit more now for a good, legally drafted will can also save your heirs money — particularly if they are not the beneficiaries designated by your state intestacy statutes, Macauley says. If your surviving family or friends are not the designated successors, they may have to spend thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of dollars fighting for what they are entitled to.

“People like these do-it-yourself wills because they don’t like to pay legal fees,” Bove says. “But the DIY will can become the most expensive ‘bargain.’”

Making a will

2. Write your will

Your will should set out:

  • who you want to benefit from your will
  • who should look after any children under 18
  • who is going to sort out your estate and carry out your wishes after your death (your executor)
  • what happens if the people you want to benefit die before you

When you need legal advice

You can get advice from a professional if your will isn’t straightforward, eg:

  • you share a property with someone who isn’t your husband, wife or civil partner
  • you want to leave money or property to a dependant who can’t care for themselves
  • you have several family members who may make a claim on your will, eg a second spouse or children from another marriage
  • your permanent home is outside the UK
  • you have property overseas
  • you have a business

Keep your will safe

You can keep your will at your home or store it with:

  • your solicitor
  • your bank
  • a company that offers the storage of wills – you can search online
  • the London Probate Service

You should tell your executor (the person you’ve chosen to carry out your will), close friend or relative where your will is.


The Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW) was founded in 1991 as a self-regulatory body to safeguard the public from unqualified practitioners and unethical business practices and has become established as the recognised professional body regulating and promoting the profession of Willwriting in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.


The Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW) was founded in 1991 as a self-regulatory body to safeguard the public from unqualified practitioners and unethical business practices. Since then, the organisation has gone from strength to strength, and is now established as the recognised professional body regulating and promoting the profession of Willwriting in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As well as being part of a recognised network of professionals, becoming a member of the IPW can help your business stand out against competitors, demonstrating the high standard of your services.

Membership is available to those who pass the IPW entrance examination, or those possess an equivalent and relevant qualification in Wills and Estates from a recognised qualifying body. For more information about how you can become a member, please click here .

In order to ensure that our members are kept up to date with legislation and industry developments, we require them to annually refresh their knowledge through a programme of Continuing Professional Development. This also enables them to retain their practising certificate.

All IPW members also have Professional Indemnity Insurance cover of a minimum of £2 million for each Will written. In order to ensure that our standards remain high, it's mandatory to comply with the IPW Code of Practice which is approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute under its Consumer Codes Approval Scheme.

Writing a Will – Legal Advice Aberdeen & Edinburgh, Scotland

Making a Will ensures that your money and possessions will be dealt with as you wish after your death. In some situations, if you do not make a Will, the results can be particularly unfortunate for your family or partner. If you own a house or flat, it is even more important to draw up a Will.

Costs of Making a Will

This tends to vary according to how complex your financial affairs are. For a simple Will, the cost is relatively inexpensive – at andersonbain, the typical charge is around £100.

Executors are the persons (or institutions) you appoint in your Will to deal with your estate after your death. It is their function to implement your instructions and administer your estate in accordance with your wishes. Generally, you would appoint your partner, children, close friends or relatives as Executors. Very often your solicitor will be co-executor (although this is not essential).

Who should I provide for?

Usually, people leave their assets to their closest relatives. At andersonbain we can advise whether, for example, you should leave all your estate to your spouse/partner, or whether part should be left to your children. Often a Will can be used as an opportunity of saying “thank you” to a good friend or making a charitable donation.

Your House

If you own a house jointly, you would normally want to make sure that your co-owner inherits your half-share. This does not always happen automatically and can cause enormous difficulties for your co-owner if he / she does not inherit your share.

Your Will can be changed at any time. However, to ensure these changes are not subject to challenge, please get your solicitor to make these changes for you.

You may have to pay tax if you have a large amount of property to leave. If so, it is important to take advice from a solicitor who may be able to significantly reduce your tax liability.

Wills & Executry Advice Edinburgh & Aberdeen

For expert wills writing advice in Edinburgh, Aberdeen or the surrounding areas, please call Anderson Bain on 01224 456 789 or click here

What you need to know about writing a will

iStockphoto.com/Spanic Image by: iStockphoto.com/Spanic Author: Canadian Living

Money & Career

What you need to know about writing a will

The importance of the phrase “get it in writing” could not be more relevant than when referring to a will. When the late Terri Schiavo entered into a persistent vegetative state and was unable to speak for herself, her loved ones were involved in a tug-of-war spanning 15 years because there was no “living will” documenting her wishes. What should have been a private matter turned out to be a well-publicized legal battle, resulting in courts supporting her husband’s wishes to take her off life support, over those of her parents.

What many people don’t know, explains Tom Carter, lawyer and author of the book, Write Your Legal Will in Three Easy Steps (Self-Counsel Press), is that in addition to a will, there are two pre-death planning documents: the Advanced Healthcare Directive and the Enduring Power of Attorney. In essence, drawing up a will allows you to plan for your future — in life and in death.

What is a will and how often should I write one?

Commonly referred to as The Last Will and Testament, it is a document with powers that are triggered by your death. In it, you express your wishes about what is to happen with your property and any other assets. The document can be held for safekeeping in your lawyer’s office, a safety deposit box at your bank or any other secure spot where you feel it can be easily found. A will should be revisited every five years, or whenever there are major changes such as a divorce, marriage, new children, parting of ways, etc., that would prompt an adjustment to be made to your will. In this case, a Codicil (change document) can be completed, rather than writing a new will from scratch.

Who will be in charge of your healthcare in case of a medical crisis?

Advanced Healthcare Directive: This is known as the Living Will in the United States. In Canada the generic term is Advanced Healthcare Directive. This is a personal care, pre-death document and varies in name depending on province. In Ontario it is called Power of Attorney for Personal Care, in British Columbia, a Representation Agreement, and in Alberta it is called Personal Directive. This document’s powers are triggered by an incapacity caused by an unforeseen health crisis such as a stroke, heart attack, accident, Alzheimer’s, or any other mental or physical disability that deems you unable to make decisions about your personal care and healthcare. In this document you designate who you would like to make important decisions concerning your medication, hospitalization, living arrangements. The document also includes specific instructions that describe your wishes to be — or to not be — kept alive by any artificial or mechanical means, such as a ventilator or feeding tube or by any life-support equipment or other heroic measures.

Who will manage your finances if you are unable to?

Enduring Power of Attorney: This document’s powers are triggered during life by an incapacity caused by an unforeseen health crisis such as a stroke, heart attack, accident, Alzheimer’s, or any other mental or physical disability that deems you unable to make decisions concerning your financial management. In this document you designate whom you would like to manage your financial affairs. Again, this document goes under a different name depending on which province you live in. In Ontario, for instance, it is called Continuing Power of Attorney for Property, in Alberta, Enduring Power of Attorney.

Who should write a will?

Once you’ve reached the age of majority and own significant assets you can draw up a will. You can write a will earlier if you are on active duty with the armed forces at a younger age or if you are married before the age of majority. The same applies for both pre-death documents. Without a will, the Intestate Succession Act kicks in. This law dictates to whom your assets and property will go. If you have no heirs, your estate (all of your assets) goes to the government.

Should you consult a lawyer?

You may decide to use a will kit, without the help of a lawyer. Saul Paton, a Toronto-based lawyer with the Elkind, Lipton & Jacobs firm warns that while will kits are perfectly legal, the “one size fits all” model may not accommodate your needs. You may have a unique set of circumstances, for which an example is not included in a will kit, that requires tailor-made provisions with the help of a lawyer.

Another potential barrier to using a kit is deciphering the legal language. While most will kits set out proper requirements, says Paton, the legality of your will ultimately hinges on the person’s ability to follow the kit’s instructions. Some people may feel more confident about the validity of their will after showing the completed document to a lawyer.

How much could this all cost?

Consulting a lawyer could cost $200 to $2,000 depending on the complexity of your will, while purchasing a will kit online or at a retail outlet could cost anywhere from $15 to $40.

Another option in several provinces is a holograph will that is composed, hand-written and signed by the owner of the will; and costs absolutely nothing. No witnesses are necessary. Paton recounts a story told by his law professor: There was a farmer in the prairies who, when pinned under his tractor, wrote his final words “all to the wife [sic*].” The court upheld it as a valid holograph will.

*Paton refers to the case of Cecil George Harris, a Saskatchewan farmer who was pinned under his tractor for over nine hours on June 8, 1948. With a knife, Harris scratched the words: “In case I die in this mess, I leave all to the wife. Cecil Harris” on the tractor’s fender. He died from his injuries. The court considered the words written on the fender as a valid holograph will.

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