Top Tips for Writing a Will 

There is a misconception that wills are only for the wealthy or the elderly, but if you have dependents and you own any assets, you really should have a will. 

There maybe a bit of a psychological barrier to them for many of us – we don’t like talking about death, after all, perhaps that’s why 56% of all people in Britain do not have a will (according to a recent survey carried out by Opinium on behalf of Brewin Dolphin). If you die without one, you could create a lot of headaches and heartaches for those you leave behind. 

What Happens if you Don’t Make a Will? 

In short; your assets could go somewhere you don’t want them to, your estate could be difficult to administer, and may attract a big tax bill, and a family rift could ensue if someone contests your will. 

If you die without a will, it is called ‘intestacy’. When somebody dies intestate, the Government effectively writes a will for them. 

Intestacy provisions specify how your estate passes if you die without a will. However, they may not be in line with your wishes, and can also be inheritance tax ineffective.  

If you are married and there is no will, your spouse will only get the first £270,000 of assets in your name when you die. 

If you are separated or divorced, your ex could make a claim against your estate in the absence of a will. 

A will can protect unmarried partners, and avoid a costly legal battle, to ensure the surviving partner inherits the assets. 

Unmarried couples have no right to automatically inherit assets from a deceased partner.  

If a will has not been left, assets could be left to children or other family members. 

A cohabiting partner may then have to go to court to benefit from the estate. 

Protecting Your Dependants. 

Wills aren’t just about your assets; they can also specify who should become guardian of your dependants if you die while they are minors. You can also use a will to make provisions for everyone in a blended family. 

The law does not recognise stepchildren in the same way as biological children, so having a will ensures all family members are included. 


Tax planning is a huge factor in the importance of wills. When you pass away, HM Revenue and Customs wants to know the value of your estate for inheritance tax purposes, and that is something you can’t change once you are gone. 

But you can minimise your tax burden by including your spouse in your will, and ensuring assets that have tax relief, such as business property relief, are treated properly. 

Such an example is where one couple who were both widowed and had remarried, who legitimately saved £260,000 in tax by capturing four nil rate bands (including those from the deceased partners) worth 1.3 million. 

If you are not careful, the way a will is drafted may prevent you taking advantage of such opportunities.  

Always Review your Will  

Peoples situations always change, and a will is a living document, which means you should revise it as your situations change or your family grows. You should keep the wording up to date, in case it refers to an asset you have since sold. 

A common thing people do with a do it yourself will, is saying they have a house to leave to this person, and money in this particular bank to leave to that person, but when they die they may not own that house, or they may not have money, or may have money in a different bank, and they haven’t referred to it, as they haven’t done the will properly. 

This will cause administrative problems, and in certain circumstances the legacy can be lost. 

Your Executors 

An executor is someone who you nominate to carry out the wishes in your will. It can be an onerous duty, so you may choose to appoint a paid professional instead of a friend or relative. 

They may need to notify the authorities of your death, pay off debts and funeral costs, deal with inheritance tax and distribute your estate to your beneficiaries. 

You will usually need to nominate two responsible people, who may also be required to administer trusts on your behalf as trustees. 

The choice of executor is importantyou might appoint a son or a daughter who hate each other and argue about everything, so the estate cannot be administered smoothly so it costs a lot of money. You may have to think about who will be able to deal with your estate efficiently. 

Do Not Cut Corners to Cut Costs 

Many people choose to cut the cost of a will by using cheap will writing services or doing it themselves.  

But there can be pitfalls; for example, some will writing companies name themselves as executors of your will, and then bill your estate for the work. A DIY will could also be invalid from being incorrectly worded or witnessed. 

Wills are not expensive as to their importance, and we as a company recommend all wills should be drafted professionally. It also means that if your will is drafted professionally, you are covered by the Legal Ombudsman, in case you need to make a complaint. 

Extra care should be taken for complex matters. 

If you own unusual or overseas assets (i.e.; a property in Spain), or your financial affairs are quite complicated, a will is vital. 

If you have less commonly held assets, such as shares in private companies, foreign land or an interest under a trust, it is even more important to get expert advice. 

If you have become a beneficiary who is not capable of handling money, because of an addiction or disability, or who would lose their benefits if they received a sudden windfall. A professional advisor can help set up a managed trust, so that you may be given gradual financial support and ease of your position. 

If you require any advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.