Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need a solicitor present to write a will?
You do not need a solicitor present to write a will, which is why you can make a fully legal will online at our site. You can be confident that any document created with our will writing technology will be legally binding once it has been correctly witnessed.
There are two main reasons that people a solicitor. Firstly, a solicitor has the necessary expertise to ensure that your wishes are expressed in “legalese”. Secondly, solicitors carry professional liability insurance to cover any potential problems resulting from the document.
The downside of using a solicitor is that their services can prove expensive, especially if you are writing a standard document, with no complicated legacies. The vast majority of wills are relatively simple documents, which is why will writing kits and making a will online are increasingly popular options.
Circumstances where we would recommend visiting a solicitor:
- If you own property, or any other immovable assets, anywhere other than England and Wales, you should speak to a solicitor experienced in dealing with the laws of that country.
- If you own a farm.
- If you are not a UK citizen and your permanent home is not in England or Wales.
- If your estate totals over £1,000,000, we recommend that you see a solicitor and/or IHT expert as they will be able to help with your tax liability.
What happens if I die without a will?
Dying without a valid will is called “dying intestate” or in a state of “intestacy”. Around a third of people in the United Kingdom die intestate and this can lead to a huge amount of suffering and extra expense for family members and loved ones.
There is a common misconception that surviving relatives decide how an estate should be divided but this is not the case. There are strict rules that determine how an estate is managed and who gets what. In some cases, this can mean that the money goes to the government. Having a fully legal will is the only way to guarantee that doesn’t happen.
If you are married or in a civil partnership, the first beneficiary will be the surviving partner, but they will not necessarily inherit the whole estate and the inheritance is dependent on which blood relatives survive the deceased.
Major problems can occur for unmarried couples as the surviving partner won’t automatically have a claim in the way that a married partner would. The process for claiming can be slow and there is no guarantee of success. Similarly, if you are separated but not divorced from a spouse, they will still have an automatic claim to your estate unless you specify otherwise in a valid will.
Remember to update your will or create a new one when your circumstances change, inform your family and friends when you change your will and be sure to let them know where your signed will is stored. This has to be the original document.
What is probate?
Probate is the process of dealing with a deceased person’s estate, including their finances and assets, and then distributing the estate among beneficiaries.
With a legal and up-to-date will in place, the executors named in the will have responsibility for probate, so it is important to inform your chosen executors. Our will writing service allows you to name back up executors in case your first choices are unwilling or unable to perform the duty.
Executors will be issued with a “grant of administration” which allows them access to the deceased’s assets, in order to distribute them once any inheritance tax has been paid.
If you die without a will, a close relative can apply to the Probate Registry to be officially recognised as responsible for your estate. This process is not always a smooth one and a “grant of letters of administration” is not always issued. By far the best way to avoid this difficulty is to have a legal and up-to-date will in place.
Who can witness a will?
Witnessing the last will and testament is an essential step in making your will legal. If your will is not correctly witnessed, it is not valid. If you choose invalid witnesses (see below), they will not be able to inherit from your estate.
- Your will must be signed by two witnesses, in your presence, at the same time as you sign the will
- A witness or the married/civil partner of a witness cannot benefit from the will
- A blind person cannot be a witness
- Witnesses must be over 18 years of age
- A witness must be “of sound mind” and capable of understanding the nature and effect of what they are doing in witnessing your will
- If a witness is a beneficiary (or the married/civil partner of a beneficiary), the will is still valid but the witness/beneficiary will not be able to inherit from the will.
With makeawillonline.co.uk, you will receive comprehensive instructions for signing and witnessing your will along with the document.
Can I cancel a last will and testament?
Cancelling your will is known as revoking your will. You can do this at any time by simply destroying your will, either by tearing it up, shredding it or burning it. If you do this, you should be careful to ensure that no previous executed (signed and witnessed) wills are still in existence.
Alternatively, making a new will cancels any previous will - the first clause of a well drafted document is usually a revocation of all former wills. If you make a will online using our website, you can rest assured that your new will is valid.
If you do cancel your last will and testament, you could consider informing anyone who will be affected by your decision, for example beneficiaries, guardians and executors.
Can I specify what happens if someone mentioned in my will dies before I do?
Yes. When entering details of the legacy (item or money), you will have the option to “add an alternative arrangement”. By selecting this option, you can say what happens to the legacy if the intended recipient is unable to inherit.
Do married couples need two wills?
Married couples should have two wills to ensure that each individual’s wishes are fulfilled.
For example, if you personally own a watch that you would like your son or daughter to inherit, that should be covered by your individual will. In some cases, one spouse may not want the other to inherit a property in which the couple lives but is owned by an individual.
A will is a personal thing but if both partners have identical wishes, a mirror will is an option. In a mirror will, the content of both wills is nearly identical, except for the name of the testator.
Making a pair of wills with makeawillonline.co.uk
Our great value will writing service allows you to make a pair of wills for just £39.50.
Once you have completed your first will, you will have the chance to start a second one. You can either start a brand new will, following the same set of questions as before, or you can make a mirror will, which "mirrors" the wishes of the first will.
The only new information you will need to enter for a mirror will is the name of the second testator (the person whose will it is) and any specific legacies, ie gifts that belong to the individual. Also, be sure to check any funerary wishes for each individual.
With makeawillonline.co.uk, you can login and update your will for up to 30 days. (max 3 updated wills as each one is checked by our expert team)
Do I need a new will if I change address?
If you move house after completing a will we recommend that you re-write the will to include the new address. This makes sure everything is up-to-date and you are identifiable. If you make a gift of your property or a right to live in it, this gift will fail once you have sold the property.
Storing a will
It is essential that your will should be stored safely as it may not be needed for many years. It is also essential that your will should be easily found after your death so that your wishes can be carried out.
The most popular options for storage are:
- Solicitors (charges apply)
- Banks (charges apply)
- A professional document storage service (charges apply)
- Keeping it yourself. If you choose to do this, be sure to let people know where it can be found.
DO NOT STORE YOUR WILL IN A BANK SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX. Probate can’t be granted without the original will and the box can’t be opened until Probate is granted!
Are online wills legal?
The short answer is yes; online wills are legal, if you fill in the information correctly and sign/witness the document correctly. With your will, you will receive a comprehensive document explaining the witnessing process and how to store your will once it has been completed, signed and witnessed.
When preparing your will, it is important to check that the names and addresses you have entered are correct as incorrect information can cause a will to fail. At the end of the will writing process, you will have a chance to double check the information you have entered and make any final changes to your document.
In 2013, after a long consultation involving the Legal Services Board, the British government confirmed their belief that the will-writing market should be diverse and not limited to solicitors.
The documents produced on makeawillonline.co.uk are based on longstanding legal precedents and are suitable in the majority of circumstances. If you have a large estate (over £1,000,000), own property abroad or have particularly complex wishes, you should speak to your solicitor, but in most circumstances, our wills are more than sufficient.
I am getting married, do I need a will?
Making a will may not be the first thing you think of when planning your wedding, but you should be aware that your legal status changes upon marriage.
Importantly, any former will is automatically revoked (cancelled) unless it specifically states otherwise. This means that your estate will be divided according to the government’s intestacy rules and not according to your wishes.
It is important to update your will or create a new will whenever your circumstances change, for example getting married or entering a civil partnership, getting divorced or dissolving a civil partnership, or when you have children.
I have separated from my partner; do I need a new will?
Unless you want your estate to pass to the person from whom you are separated, a new will is the only way to ensure your wishes are fulfilled. Here are two examples:
Without a will:
Jack and Diane have been married for five years and have two children. Diane leaves Jack and the children and moves in with Terry. Jack has not yet started divorce proceedings when he dies without a legally valid last will and testament.
Diane would still be first in line to inherit Jack’s money and property according to intestacy laws. Jack could have prevented this by writing and executing a will.
With an out-of-date will:
Andy and Mark wrote mirror wills leaving everything to each other after entering a civil partnership. They have since separated and are living with other partners but have not re-written or revoked their wills.
Until the civil partnership is officially dissolved, the wills are still valid: Andy’s possessions would go to Mark and vice versa.
Divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership
Divorce or dissolution of civil partnership does not automatically revoke your will like getting married does. If you divorce or dissolve your civil partnership after your will is made, any reference to your former spouse or civil partner will be treated as if he or she had died on the day that the decree absolute or final dissolution order was made. You should seek legal advice in those circumstances.
It is important to update your will or create a new will whenever your circumstances chance, for example getting married or entering a civil partnership, getting divorced or dissolving a civil partnership, or when you have children.
What is a will?
A will (properly known as a “last will and testament”) is a legal document in which you can determine what happens after you die to your possessions, body and any surviving children for whom you are legally responsible. Without a will, the courts decide what happens to your possessions according to a strict set of rules.
One important function of a will is to name an executor or executors. This is the person who will manage the probate – the process of tying up any loose ends and distributing your estate after your death.
A will should state clearly what you want to happen to your possessions and any specific wishes you have. To become legally valid, it is essential that the will should be correctly witnessed by two people who are not beneficiaries in the will and who are not married/in a civil partnership with a beneficiary of the will.
A will can fail if it is poorly drafted, contradictory or incorrectly witnessed. For example, if you own a property jointly with someone, you can only deal with the part that belongs to you in your will and you should inform the owner of the other half. For your security, all wills made on this site are checked by our expert team.
It is also very important that a will should be properly stored as your instructions can only be carried out if the document can be found.
Our solicitor-designed online software allows you to draft a last will and testament according to longstanding legal traditions. It is perfect for anyone who needs the peace of mind that can only come from having a valid last will and testament .
Wills and Step children
Unless you have legally adopted your step children, they have no automatic right to inherit under the laws of intestacy. The only way to ensure that they will be provided for in the event of your death is to name them as beneficiaries in your will.
Using our online will writing service, you can determine exactly who you want your possessions to pass to in the event of your death. Without a valid last will and testament, your estate will be divided according to the laws of intestacy. It is in these circumstances that stepchildren can be left unprotected.
If you have stepchildren and wish for them to be provided for in the same way as your biological children, you must do so with a last will and testament. Without a will, they have less claim to your estate than, for example, an illegitimate child who can prove a blood relationship to you.
Remembering a charity in your will
Gifts left in wills are one of the major sources of income for UK-based charities. But while almost three quarters of people in Britain support charities, less than one in ten leave a charitable legacy in their last will and testament.
Our service allows you to assign a legacy of any size to a charity of your choice. You can either give a specific gift to a charity, normally a sum of money, or you can make the charity a residuary beneficiary.
Some people choose to make the charity into a backup residuary beneficiary in the case that there are no living relatives to inherit an estate.
The UK’s charitable sector currently receives around £2 billion a year from legacies.
Money back guarantee
We firmly believe that the online wills made on this site are the best currently available in England and Wales. To support this claim, we offer a 30 day money back guarantee.
If you are in any way dissatisfied with a last will and testament created on this site, simply let us know why within 30 days of making your purchase and we will refund your money. The full amount paid will be refunded to the original source of payment.
It is very important to us that, should you request your money back, you let us know why so that we can further improve our wills service.
One important element you can manage in your last will and testament is guardianship of any dependents.
When you grant someone guardianship, they have the legal right to be responsible for the food, housing, healthcare and other necessities of someone deemed incapable of providing these things for themselves. This normally means children under the age of 18.
If you intend to assign guardianship in your will, it is important that you should speak with anyone you intend to name as a guardian before doing so, therefore preparing them for the possibility (however unlikely) of taking responsibility for your dependents. This is important because guardianship is a significant responsibility. Guardians named in a will also have the right to turn down the duty.
It is also important to discuss your decision with anyone else with an interest in your children’s welfare as they could potentially challenge your choice of guardian. If a case like this comes to court, the child’s welfare and wellbeing will be considered and a decision will be made – this can be a very unpleasant process at a time that is already distressing.
If you have step children and wish to deal with their guardianship, we advise you to visit a solicitor as the situation can cause complications and depends on their legal relationship with you.
A pair of wills or mirror wills?
Makeawillonline.co.uk offers superb-value pairs of wills. Once you have entered your details for the first will, you will have the chance to add a second document for just £10 extra. This option is perfect for married couples or civil partners.
You can either make a pair of wills or mirrored wills. The difference is that, for a pair of wills you will enter completely new information for the second will, while a mirror will reflects the information entered for the first will. However, some information must be re-entered on a mirrored will, for example the name of the testator (the person making the will), funerary instructions (burial, cremation, etc) and any individual gifts (specific legacies).