Making or revising your will after someone dies

If someone close to you dies, it can change your own future plans. It may affect what you want to put in your own will, so it’s crucial you take some time to think about this.

Changing your will

  • You may have just inherited something, and now you want to specify who will get that on your death.
  • Alternatively, someone who recently died may have been named as a beneficiary, executor or guardian in your will. You may want to change who now gets that share of your estate, or you may need to appoint a replacement executor or guardian if you haven’t already appointed substitutes.
  • You might be thinking about making sure it’s easy to access money for your own funeral, or suggesting how you want your own funeral to be arranged.

Take some time to look through your will to see if it needs changing.

Depending on what sort of change you’re making, you can use a document known as a ‘codicil’ or draw up a new one.

Find out more about adding a codicil or writing a new will in Changing your will.

If you don’t have a will

If you don’t have a will, you should think about drawing one up as soon as possible.

Dying without a will is called ‘dying intestate’. If you don’t have a will when you die, your money, property and possessions will be shared out according to the law instead of your wishes. This can mean they pass to someone you hadn’t intended – or that someone you want to pass things on to ends up with nothing.​

Unmarried partners will receive nothing under the intestacy rules if their partner dies without a will.

Making a will for the first time

Before you can draw up a will you need to decide who gets what. Think about what you’ve got to leave and who you want it to go to. Even if you have no savings or other assets, you can use your will to specify who should act as guardians for your children in the event of your death.

Executors

An executor is someone who helps distribute your wealth when you die.

You usually name between one and four executors in your will. Typically, they will also inherit from you although they do not have to.

They are often family members or close friends. You can use your will to appoint a professional as an executor, such as a solicitor or an accountant.

Make sure you think carefully about who you choose. You should be sure they will be confident in dealing with the process and, importantly, will have the time and expertise to do so.

Setting up a power of attorney

A power of attorney gives someone the power to handle your property and financial affairs if you become incapacitated. Without one, accessing and using your money could be very difficult.

You can also put in place a power of attorney relating to your health and welfare. This means that someone has the authority to make decisions such as:

  • where you are cared for and the type of care your receive
  • your diet
  • how you dress
  • your daily routine
  • the power to consent or refuse life sustaining treatment

Powers of attorney like this can only be used once they have been registered and you have lost capacity to make decisions for yourself. The power under a registered power of attorney ceases after your death and your executors take over your property and financial affairs.

Consider setting this up at the same time as you write your will.

Will writing options

When you’re thinking about making a will for the first time, you need to decide who is going to deal with it. You can:

  • do it yourself
  • use a will writing service
  • get a solicitor to do it

Find out more about which option may be most suitable for you in Writing a will – your options.