What is the cost of making a will?
A will can cost anywhere from £150 to £500. This fee covers the work of drafting and witnesses your choice, as well as statutory fees for registering it. It does not include estate or funeral costs which could be anything between a few hundred to tens of thousands of pounds depending on circumstances.
A simple will is the least complicated legal document, with introductory provisions that allow you to nominate who gets your assets and how they are distributed. A solicitor can draw up a single page version for £150-£200 or an eight-page version for about £250. These fees would include any necessary statutory declarations as well as witness signatures. This type of will does not make arrangements for other property, such as jointly owned items (joint tenancy) which need specific agreement between all co-owners before someone dies.
A complex will cover arrangements for jointly owned property and others items. This type of document is likely to be much more complicated, with provisions for potential ‘distant heirs’. A simple one-page version might start at £250-£350, while a longer two or three hundred pages could cost as much as £3000. The lengthier the document, the greater the chance it contains errors that need correcting (sometimes after you have died), so lawyers recommend using this sort of will only if there are many different types of assets.
A specialist will is a legally binding document that sets out how you want to distribute your assets, including property and includes arrangements for children or dependents if too ill to make decisions. It needs more planning than a simple will, usually taking at least an hour or two with the solicitor who may charge between £300-£400 depending on its complexity.
A mirror will is a document that sets out how you want to distribute your assets, including property and includes arrangements for children or dependents if too ill to make decisions. It needs more planning than a simple will, usually taking at least an hour or two with the solicitor who may charge between £300-£400 depending on its complexity.
Why use a solicitor?
People may have more complicated affairs that need to be taken into account, and the will might also include a power of attorney or living will.
You should use one if you are thinking about leaving your property, savings or anything else valuable to children under 18 years old as they may not legally own these assets until they turn 18.
If you think this is something for you, then it’s worth spending time researching solicitors1 in your area before making an appointment so that you can find someone who has experience with what’s needed for the type of will which best suits you.
The benefits of using a solicitor
A solicitor will make sure that the terms of your will are followed after you die, and they’ll also be able to deal with any probate fees.
If a person has property, income or even money in their bank account, which is complicated, it might be worth using one as there can be many rules about how these assets get passed before death if someone doesn’t has written instructions.
What to expect from your solicitor
If you’re looking for a solicitor, it’s worth knowing what to expect when meeting one. Some solicitors will advise on the types of wills and advice about which type would be best for your situation. Others might want to draw up the document with little preamble, while others might go through everything in great detail before getting down to business. If you have any questions, then feel free to ask them – they should always be able to give you an answer.
Your solicitor is there to ensure that your wishes are followed and not interfered with by someone else’s ambitions. It can be a distressing time if this happens, so it’s worth taking the utmost care when making any decisions about what will happen after death. Also, having a solicitor on hand might help stop arguments between loved ones as they won’t know who wrote which clauses in the document. Suppose there are two people involved in writing up the will (or children from different relationships). In that case, they might come into conflict because one of them thought their needs were more important than another person’s – better safe than sorry.
Solicitors as executors.
If you’re in the process of writing a will, don’t forget to appoint an executor. Your solicitor is usually your best choice for this role – they’ve been with you throughout all stages and are most likely to know what should happen when it’s time to put everything into action. But if you decide not to use them as an executor, then someone needs to do that job, so make sure whoever steps up knows precisely how important it is. They also need some information about any investments or business interests that might come under their control, too – money talks.
Using solicitors for free through charities
The Charities Aid Foundation2 has a free will service, and they’ll provide you with an initial consultation followed by the drafting of a document to be signed in front of witnesses. They also offer ongoing support should anything change in your circumstances that might affect it – so make sure someone knows what’s going on too.
In particular, CAF can help people who are living elsewhere but have strong links with England or Wales; refugees and asylum seekers; people whose first language isn’t English – this includes translators for sign-language users as well as other languages where there may not be access to solicitors qualified in both languages; people from ethnic or religious minorities; those living in poverty, and disabled people.
CAF will also draw up a Living Will if you want them to – this is where someone can appoint their executor (the person who takes care of the legal process) and instructions about what they want to be done should they become unable to speak for themselves. CAF’s free service has been running since 2009, with more than 12,000 wills completed so far.
Before you see a solicitor
It would be best if you thought about what you want to happen in the event of your death and who should be involved.
You might also like to think about appointing an executor – someone responsible for making sure that instructions are followed when it comes to sorting out matters relating to your estate (money, property) after a person dies.
You could appoint more than one person as an executor if desired; they don’t have to work with each other but can act independently on behalf of the willmaker’s wishes.
One of them may need a power of attorney before accessing funds or making decisions on behalf of another individual: this is where CAF steps in again by offering this service free-of-charge through its probate services team.
If you don’t want to use a solicitor
You could always write a will yourself, but it’s not recommended.
Without legal advice, you may end up making mistakes that can have severe consequences for your family and loved ones in the future – or worse still, leave them with no protection at all.
It is therefore advisable to team up with a professional who understands what needs to be done when writing a will so they can:
- help make sure everything’s set out correctly;
- take care of any tax implications and liaise directly with HMRC if necessary;
- ensure there are no gaps left in terms of property ownership or other assets.
What should you never put in your will?
- Your bank details and passwords.
- Personal or confidential information about anyone else, such as your children’s medical records or anything they’ve confided in you confidentially.
- Anything that may cause family members to argue among themselves – for example, a dispute over the contents of an old house where there are several potential beneficiaries.
How do I make sure my will is valid?
You need to make the will in your handwriting or type it up and sign it – using a solicitor is not enough. It needs to be signed by two people who are at least 18 years old and have no interest in what you’ve left them using an ‘attestation clause’.
What are some problems with making a will?
The common problems are:
- The will is not made in the right way.
- You forget to change it when you get married or divorced, for example, if your spouse gets a share of what’s left.
- Your children are too young and can’t make their own decisions about who should look after them financially – so they don’t have anyone else appointed as guardian under the terms of your will.
What happens if I don't make a will?
If you don’t make a will, the law says what should happen to your money and possessions. The state decides who’s looking after your children too – it might not be someone you would have chosen.
When you’re ready to write your will, don’t forget about the benefits of enlisting a solicitor. Though it’s not necessary for everyone and maybe more expensive than other options if you decide that some professional assistance is proper for you, there are many reasons why using a solicitor might make sense. A local estate planning attorney can help answer any questions or concerns you have about how best to protect your assets by writing up an appropriate will plan tailored to meet your needs and goals.