Top ten tips for writing a Will
1 SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE
It is important to seek the advice of a competent professional before
drafting your Will.
Even if you decide that you do not want to go through the expense of using
a Solicitor or Specialist Will writer it makes sense to take advantage of any
free advice available to you. Many consultants will offer free no obligation
consultations and advice is also available from the Citizens Advice Bureau
free of charge.
2. BE MINDFUL OF INHERITANCE TAX
The current IHT threshold is £325,000. This means that any estate that
exceeds this value will be liable to pay inheritance tax at a rate of 40% of
anything above the threshold.
There are a number of ways estate planning can be used to reduce IHT
liability, so if you believe that it may be an issue be sure to ask your adviser
about IHT mitigation.
3. CHOOSE YOUR EXECUTORS & TRUSTEES CAREFULLY
Most testators elect friends and family members to be their executors and
trustees but few understand what the roles involve.
Executors are responsible for distributing your estate in accordance with
your Will after you have died. The role carries a huge amount of
responsibility and executors can be held personally liable for any loss
suffered by the estate and its beneficiaries if they fail to carry out their
A trustee takes legal ownership of trust property and can generally use
wide discretion when dealing with the property (subject to restrictions of
the Trust and their fiduciary duties). It is therefore extremely important
that you choose a trustee who is financially competent and who you
believe will act in good faith and the best interests of all the Beneficiaries of
5. APPOINT APPROPRIATE GUARDIANS
If you have children under the age of eighteen it is important to consider
who you would want to look after your children in the event that you are
not around to take care of them. The most practical way to do this is to
appoint a guardian in your Will.
6. MAKE SURE THE TERMS OF YOUR WILL ARE CLEAR
If your Will lacks clarity your executors may need to seek legal advice before
administering your estate or risk personal liability. This can be costly and time
consuming so it is always best to ensure your Will is easily understood.
7. ALWAYS NOMINATE A RESIDUARY BENEFICIARY
Nominating a residuary beneficiary in your Will is the easiest way to avoid a
partial intestacy and should be done even if you think your estate is very
small as you may own property that you have forgotten about or are
8. MAKE SURE YOUR WILL IS CORRECTLY SIGNED & ATTESTED
Under the Laws of England and Wales a Will needs to be signed by two
The document must be signed by the testator in front of both witnesses
and vice versa in order to be legally valid. Failure to properly sign a Will
may lead to it being challenged later.
Make sure the Will is not signed by any beneficiaries (or their spouse/civil
partner) as they will forfeit their right to receive their gift1.
Choose witnesses who are over 18 years old and of sound mind to avoid
concerns over suitability.
Always date your Will so that your executors can tell that it is your “last will
Section 15 Wills Act 1837