Writing a will – your options

Everyone should have a will, and there are several ways of getting yours written. From solicitors to do-it-yourself wills, read what to expect, what you’ll pay, and how to choose what’s right for you.

It’s your choice

You might feel confident writing it yourself, but be careful.

For a will to be valid, you need to meet certain conditions. It’s easy to make a mistake, so be sure you are familiar with the rules. If in doubt speak to an expert.

There are three main options to choose from:

  • use a solicitor
  • use a will writing service
  • do it yourself.

Read on to decide which is best for you – then pick one and get started. But whatever you do, don’t do nothing.

The main will-writing options

Use a solicitor to write your will

Solicitors are the experts – they know their stuff, and they should write you a watertight will that does exactly what you want it to.

It’s the most expensive option, but it will give you most peace of mind, especially if your affairs are complex.

You should definitely consider a solicitor if:

  • your estate may have to pay Inheritance Tax (currently, you might have to pay if your estate’s value (including property) is more than £325,000)
  • you’ve got a complex family situation, like former partners or estranged children, and you want to be sure that your estate can be divided as you wish
  • you want to protect someone’s interests after you’ve gone, like a disabled family member
  • you want to talk through the options with an expert or you need some support you can trust

Expect to pay: A single will, drawn up by a solicitor might cost between £144 and £240. A joint will for couples might cost between £150 and £300. Make sure the cost you’re quoted includes additional costs such as VAT.

If your affairs are complex, such as involving trusts or overseas properties, it can cost between £500 to £600, according to Which?

Use a will-writing service

This is a cheaper option than a solicitor, and offers some support and advice, but its very much a case of getting what you pay for.

If you’re deciding between a will writer and a solicitor, remember that:

  • your will writer won’t necessarily be legally qualified
  • will-writing services might not have been trading as long as many solicitors’ firms – important if you also want them to store your will
  • will writers aren’t regulated in the same way as solicitors, so there’s less comeback for you if things go wrong – so try and use a will writer who’s a member of a professional organisation.

Expect to pay: around £75 and upwards. Extra services, like looking after your will, are often quoted separately. These costs can add up.

Many charities offer free will-writing services but they do hope for a donation. Some are only available to the over 55s and some may not be available near where you live.

For more information, read about cheap and free wills on the MoneySavingExpert website.

Write your own will

The cheapest – and perhaps riskiest way – to write a will is to do it yourself. You can buy templates online or at stationery shops.

This is only really a suitable option if your affairs are very simple. For example, if you’re married or in a civil partnership and have children, and you want to leave everything to the survivor of you on the first death, and your children in, say, equal shares on the second death.

The template should show what you need to do to make sure that it is signed, dated and witnessed properly, and that your old wills are revoked.

It’s important to follow these rules, otherwise there is a risk that your home-made will will be invalid.

The law about inheritances and how they’re taxed can be complex and things might change between when you write your will and when you die. That makes it risky to write your own will without any advice at all. But you can do it if you want to.

Expect to pay: as little as £10 for a basic template.

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