Thinking of putting together your own DIY will? There are a few things you should know before getting stuck in…
A DIY will is a viable option for some people when it comes to putting together their dying wishes. We say “some” as it really depends on your situation, including your relationship status, estate value, and more.
If you want to find a solicitor to write your will, this is usually the go-to option for most people. That said, it is completely possible to write your own will if you’re up for the challenge and if your position allows for it.
The question is, is this a feasible option for you? There are a number of caveats you should be aware of before starting this process, so don’t go anywhere if you want to know more…
Why Do I Need a Will?
Although many people will put off writing a will, it’s a really important document that needs to be put into action, no matter how young you are. As soon as you start to earn your own savings, have children, and buy yourself a property, a will should on the top of your to-do list.
At the end of the day, no will means you end up with no say over what happens to your money, property, and belongings when you die. But, as a newbie to all this, you’re probably wondering how you can do this? Especially if you’re young, you might not have any spare cash to get it sorted, so what’s the deal?
How Much Does It Usually Cost to Write a Will?
When making your dying wishes clear, most people will choose to use a solicitor. This will cost you anywhere between around £140 and £600, depending on your situation, and how complicated it all is. The prices, including VAT, may range between:
- £144 to £240: you could get a will for this price if it’s a simple one, and you shop around to find a good deal.
- £150 to £300: this goes for a complex will, where you may have children, or perhaps you’re divorced.
- £500 to £600: this will be the maximum cost you might pay, and is only necessary for a specialist will involving overseas estates and tax planning advice.
You can also pay for a mirror will, which will normally cost a bit less than what you paid for your original one. This is perfect for if you have a partner or spouse who wants basically the same will as you, with just a few bits altered.
Can I Write a DIY Will Instead?
If you’re looking for a way to cut costs, you can choose to write your own will. That said, this comes with a number of stipulations, so if you want to know if this is the best option for you, read on…
Who Shouldn’t Write a DIY Will?
A do-it-yourself will is a really great way of cutting costs for anyone who has a very simple estate. So, if all a person’s belongings and money are going to their partner or children, it’s pretty cut and dry. That said, not everyone has such simple wishes, so doing it DIY should be avoided if you:
- Are trying to reduce your inheritance tax
- Own property abroad
- Own any foreign investments, shares, or bank accounts
- Have a share in a business, property, or estate
- You own a business and want to leave your share to someone else
- You have financial dependents that aren’t immediate family members
- If you have any complex wishes that may be misunderstood
What Should I Include in my DIY Will?
If you decide to write your own, there are a number of different aspects of your life you should be including in your will. This includes your estate and any debts you have. Together, this will include:
- Any property you own
- Your monetary savings
- Any premium bonds, shares, or investment funds
- Any businesses you own or have shares in
- Your insurance
- Your pension funds
- Your personal belongings, including jewellery, clothes, technology
- Household items, like furniture and cooking utensils
- Any vehicles you own or are paying off
- Your mortgage
- Equity release
- Any student loans
- Any bank overdrafts
- Any unpaid credit card balances
Every part of your life, listed above, should be assigned to someone to inherit from you. This could be a family member, a friend, a charity or organisation, or even a stranger. It’s really important that all of this is assigned properly, using the correct wording, to ensure your dying wishes are met.
What is the Process for Writing a DIY Will?
Now that you’re aware of what should be included in your will, it’s time to execute it officially. So, you must be sure to get your assets, listed above, valued, then decide how you want to divide it all up.
You then need to choose your executors, which is the person or people who are in charge of making sure it’s all carried out. This should be someone you trust implicitly.
Once you’ve decided all this, it’s time to write your will. You need to ensure everything is spelt correctly and is signed and witnessed by two adults. Be sure to destroy any old wills you may have lying around, and then ensure your new one is stored in a safe place. Then, make sure your executor knows whereabouts it has been stored.
What Methods Are There to Write Your Own Will?
There are a number of ways you can go about writing your own will. Depending on the size of your estate, the number of beneficiaries, and anything else which complicates the situation, you might choose a:
Will on a Scrap of Paper
In essence, it could simply be written on a scrap of spare paper if you wanted it to. As long as it’s been witnessed by two adults present when you signed it, and someone knows where it’s kept, you’re good to go.
Due to the current pandemic situation, the government have even made provisions for socially distanced will writing. Now, it’s legal to witness a will remotely, via a video call, in England and Wales.
However, in these cases, you risk not covering everything and potentially using disputable wording. So, if you have numerous beneficiaries, it may be worth seeking a different avenue for your estate.
DIY Will Kit
Some other ways people may decide to write their wills is through using a kit. For example, a WHSmith will kit or a post office will kit are good alternatives for those who need a little more guidance. These provide more of a template, so you can be sure you’re covering everything important.
You can also buy a DIY will template online, which will usually cost between £10 and £30. This will help you to get all the wording correct, ensuring nothing is misunderstood.
Online Will Service
A much more official way of doing this, however, is by using an online will service. This will take you through, step-by-step, some questions to gauge the best price for your situation, including:
- Whether you’re married or in a civil partnership
- Where your estate is based, and whether you own anything abroad
- Whether you own any part of a business or property
Once these are answered, you’ll then be provided with a list of potential prices. So, for an unmarried person, their will might range between £99 and £169, depending on what sort of service they’re after, be it economy, standard, or premium.
In your online will, you’ll be able to make unlimited gifts, as well as appoint child guardians, leave money for people, and make inheritance Tax provisions. They may then charge an extra fee to store the will for you in a safe place. Once paid, you can go ahead with it all, and can even link it up with your partner’s will too.
The Pros and Cons of Writing a DIY Will
Now that we know more about how you might go about writing your own will, what are the benefits and drawbacks of doing so?
The Pros of Writing a DIY Will
- Great for anyone with very simple wishes.
- Can be purchased for a fair bit cheaper than if you were to use a solicitor.
- They will take up less of your time to write.
The Cons of Writing a DIY Will
- Not for people with a much more complicated estate.
- DIY wills can sometimes lead to contested estates.
- You have to be really careful with using the correct word coding to be sure everyone knows what you mean.
- Unclear clauses within the will may lead to family members turning against one another.
- Any disputes may lead to expensive legal action for your inheritors and beneficiaries.
- It might lead to anxiety that your final requests won’t be carried out properly.
- It might not be stored safely.
- You can be sure it’s legally binding.
- Will writing services usually aren’t regulated, meaning they can be disputed more easily.
- Amendments aren’t so easy to make on a DIY will.
Think a DIY Will is on the Cards for You?
As we’ve seen in this article, it is entirely possible to produce a DIY will. That said, although this might be a great way to cut costs, it’s important that you’re sure your estate can be divvied up in this way. If you have a more complicated situation, seeking the advice and help of a solicitor is probably your best port of call.
Ultimately, it’s your decision; if you want to be absolutely certain your wishes will be taken into account, going through the correct legal channels may be your answer.
Have you ever created a DIY will, or are thinking of doing so? What has your experience been with it all, and would you recommend it? Be sure to leave your stories and comments down below.