It's something many of us avoid, but making a Will is worthwhile and it can be easier than you think. Here are a couple of steps you can take to get started.
Five steps to making a Will
1. Work out the value of your estate
Make a list of your assets and estimate their value (for example your home, valuables, and savings). Then do the same with what you owe. Take the second away from the first, and you’re left with what’s called your total estate value. For further help, order our Will Planner to help guide you through the process.
2. Decide who you’d like to benefit and how
Now you know how much you’re worth, it’s time to decide who you’d like to remember in your Will – friends, family and favourite charities – and how you’d like to divide your estate between them. Just 1% of your estate will make a difference if you choose to leave a gift in your Will to Samaritans.
3. Choose your Executors and your solicitor
An Executor is someone who will help carry out the terms of your Will. People often choose a family member and a solicitor to ensure their wishes are secured.
4. Keep your Will safe
Most people like to leave one copy in the care of their solicitor, and keep their own copy in a safe place (to make things easier at what can be a difficult time, make sure your Executors know where to find it).
5. Review it regularly
People’s lives can quickly change – marriages, divorces, children, grandchildren or house moves. So it’s a good idea to check your Will is up-to-date every five years or so. This helps to ensure that your Will is still validated and legally binding.
Updating your existing Will
If you have already written a Will, you can simply add an additional document. This new document is called a codicil – an addition, amendment or supplement to your existing Will.
We always recommend finding a professional to write or update a Will, so you can ensure it's legally recognised. Visit Remember A Charity for further advice.
Legacy gifts glossary
The language of Will writing can seem complicated and daunting. That’s why we’ve put together this explanation of some of the most common terms that you may come across. If you are in any doubt about anything you read here, your solicitor will be able to help you.
Wills - the jargon explained
Everything that you own, i.e. your house, money, investments and personal possessions like furniture and jewellery.
Any person or organisation that receives a gift in your Will.
A simple legal document which amends an existing Will.
The total sum of your possessions, property and money left at your death after debts have been paid.
A person/persons named in your Will who will administer your estate in accordance with the final directions set out in your Will. An Executor may also be a Beneficiary.
Someone who is responsible for children until they become 18.
The 40% tax paid when you die on the proportion of your estate that is over the nil-rate band threshold. This threshold varies every tax year. All gifts in your Will to charity are free of inheritance tax.
The term for a person who dies without having a Will. Under the Rules of Intestacy, if you die without a Will, certain relations are entitled to apply for your estate. If you do not have any surviving blood relations, the state will apply for your estate.
Any gift you leave in your Will to a person or charity.
All your debts, including your mortgage and other money you owe.
The right of a beneficiary to benefit from part or all of your estate for their lifetime. For example, in your Will you can give a relative/friend the right to live in a property for their lifetime.
The legal process by which your Executor(s) administer your estate in accordance with your Will.
The total sum of your possessions, property and money left at your death after debts and gifts of fixed sums to Beneficiaries have been paid.
A person who has made a Will.
One (or more) people who manage a trust.