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Writing a will

All advice contained within this section relates to England and Wales only.

will is a legal document that sets out how you wish your estate (including property, cash, shares and personal possessions) to be distributed after your death. It can also record other wishes such as your funeral arrangements.

A will must comply with certain laws in order to be valid. For example, a will must be signed and have two witnesses who are not beneficiaries.

If you do not make a will, the intestacy rules will determine how your estate is distributed on your death. The rules may not be appropriate to your circumstances and/or wishes. 

Why write a will

Making a will means you can decide exactly who gets your assets after your death. A will means you can:

  • have peace of mind that the trusted person(s) you’ve asked to act as executor will ensure that your wishes are followed after your death

  • set out your funeral wishes (although these are only morally, not legally, binding)

  • appoint guardians for any children under 18 

  • decide who should receive particular items which have a sentimental value. For example, you may wish to give items of jewellery to named people, rather than treat them as part of your personal possessions

  • provide for friends or charities or other organisations 

  • ensure there is adequate provision for those financially dependent upon you

  • help prevent disputes within the family by making your wishes clear

  • help minimise tax liabilities after your death in some circumstances.

 

The Which? Wills questionnaire will help you find the will that is best for you

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