04/10/2018 11:06 BST

More Than Half Of Parents Haven't Made A Will – Here's How To Do It

Did you know you can write your own?

More than half of parents in Britain with kids younger than 18 don’t have a will, a survey had revealed. The study, carried out by charity Will Aid, found that 56 per cent of mums and dads have not prepared this vital piece of paperwork – up from 54 per cent last year.

This figure was higher in other parts of the UK: 79 percent of Northern Irish parents and 74 per cent of parents in the North East were without wills. Meanwhile in the north west 64 per cent of parents had no will, 63 per cent in the south west and 60 per cent in Wales.

“Writing a will is a chance for a parent or parents to leave clear instructions about who they would like to care for their child in the event of their death,” said Peter de Vena Franks, campaign director for Will Aid.

“If you die without appointing a guardian, and there is no other parent with parental responsibility, an application would need to be made to the court to decide with whom your child will live, in the event of a dispute about this.”

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The findings comes as solicitors across the country begin to take bookings in preparation for Will Aid Month when, each November, solicitors waive their fees for will writing services, inviting clients to make a voluntary donation to Will Aid.  Funds raised support the vital work of its nine partner charities, benefitting children, the elderly and other vulnerable people at home and overseas. The suggested voluntary donation for a basic Will Aid will is £95 for a single will and £150 for a pair of “mirror” wills for couples.

When should I write my will?

Your will lets you decide what happens to your money, property and possessions after your death, so people are advised to be proactive in writing a will when they have significant assets, such as a house or flat they have bought. 

Also, if you and your partner aren’t married or in a civil partnership, your partner won’t have a right to inherit if you don’t have a will.

Your will should set out:

:: who you want to benefit from your will

:: who should look after any children under 18

:: who is going to sort out your estate and carry out your wishes after your death (your executor)

:: what happens if the people you want to benefit die before you. 

How do I do it?

There are different options to choose from when writing a will. You can a) use a solicitor; b) use a will writing service; or c) do it yourself. 

According to the Money Advice Service (MAS), a single will drawn up by a solicitor will cost around £150-250, depending on who you choose. A joint will for couples could cost up to £300. Generally, if your situation is more complex (dividing up assets between different people, for example), this will cost more. 

Will writing services are cheaper, but don’t include the benefit of a solicitor. For this you will pay around £75-100. Some charities also offer free will-writing services in exchange for a donation. 

The cheapest option is to write your own will. You can buy templates online for around £10. “This is only really a suitable option if your affairs are very simple,” advises MAS. “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 reason writing your own will is risky is because most wills follow some general rules for what you say and how you say it. These standard ways of writing things remove confusion over meaning. Using the wrong wording could mean that your instructions aren’t followed, or your will isn’t valid. This is why people are advised to pay for legal help. 

How do I make sure my will is valid?

Once you have written your will, it must be signed in writing by you and witnessed by two people over the age of 18. Beneficiaries of the will (and their spouses or civil partners) shouldn’t act as witnesses, or they lose their right to the inheritance. 

You must also ensure you:

:: are 18 or over

:: make it voluntarily

:: are of sound mind

:: make it in writing.

Where do I leave my will?

If you used a solicitor or a will writing service, you can legally leave your will with them but there will be a fee. Alternatively, the Probate Service will store your will for you. You have to lodge it with them officially, and make official requests to take it out again – there will be a fee of around £20. You can also ask your bank. 

You can also keep your will at home in a safe, as long as your executor – the person you name to sort out your wishes when you die – knows where it is. There is a risk here, because it could be thrown away or damaged accidentally, so be sure to store it carefully.

Those who wish to make a will through Will Aid can book their November appointments by calling 0300 0309 558.

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