Legalising your will
You must sign your will in the presence of two independent witnesses, who must also sign it in your presence.
If the will is signed incorrectly, it will not be valid. If any beneficiaries act as a witness, they will not be able to inherit. You should not have any beneficiaries in the room when the will is signed.
Reviewing your will
Make sure to review your will at least every five years, and after any major change in your life, such as:
- marriage or divorce
- having a child, or
- moving house.
Executing your will
An executor is a person or group of people chosen to deal with your estate after your death. Being an executor can be a lot of work, so make sure you pick wisely.
You can choose a solicitor to act as a professional executor, especially if:
- the estate is complicated
- there might be a family conflict, or
- someone independent is required.
They will charge for their services, and this will be paid from the estate. Some charities can also be your executor, but you will need to contact them first.
If you can’t find anyone to act as an executor, there is a government official, the Public Trustee, who can do this.
When planning your will, make sure you take into account the tax. It is a tax of 40 per cent on estates worth over £325,000 including savings, possessions, pension funds, and property.
The first £325,000 is tax free. There are some cases where the tax isn’t applied:
- if you leave your full estate to your spouse or partner
- all charitable donations
- gifts to beneficiaries before you die - tax can still apply, seek advice.
Setting up a trust can reduce the amount of tax. Different trusts can affect the amount of tax in different ways.
Getting further advice
A will is a complex legal document and it's a good idea to seek professional advice, even if you are employing someone to create one for you.
The Money Advice Service has lots of advice and guidance for things to think about when making a will.