I’d like to make a will, what should I do?

04 Jan 2018 Answered by Terri Leigh

Why should I make a will?

Making a will puts you in control of how your savings, possessions, property and all other assets (your ‘Estate’) will be dealt with after you die. It allows you to decide who benefits from your Estate, to include your family, friends and causes you care about.

When you die, it can be a very stressful and daunting time for those you leave behind. Making a will can provide your loved ones with a sense of order in managing your affairs and carrying your wishes out.

What happens if I die without leaving a will?

In the absence of a will, you will die ‘intestate’ and your Estate will be divided in accordance with the Intestacy Rules which are a special set of rules that decide how your Estate will be distributed between your blood relatives.


If you die without leaving a will and…

1. You are married or have a civil partner or children (children includes legally-adopted children, but not step-children), your surviving spouse or civil partner will inherit all your personal possession and at least the first £250,000 of your Estate, plus half of the balance Estate. Your children will be entitled to the other half of the balance. If the Estate is less than £250,000 your Estate will pass to the surviving spouse or civil partner. Your children will not receive any part of your Estate, regardless of whether they are children from a previous marriage or relationship.


2. You are married or have a civil partner, but do not have any surviving children, your entire Estate will be inherited by your surviving spouse or civil partner.


3. You do not leave a surviving spouse or civil partner but have children, your children will inherit your Estate in equal shares. If a child dies before you, their children (your grandchildren (not to include step-grandchildren) will inherit in their place.


4. You do not leave a surviving spouse, civil partner or children (and grandchildren), your Estate may be distributed between your surviving parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and any other blood relatives in accordance with the Intestacy Rules.


5. You are unmarried partners, the law does not provide that the surviving partner will inherit any part of your Estate.

In the absence of a Will, your Estate may not be divided in accordance with your wishes and part of your Estate may be received by someone you do not want to inherit.

I want to make a will, what should I do next?

If you want to make a Will, you should first consider your current assets and any debts and liabilities. Assets may include property (owned in your sole or jointly names), savings, bank accounts, pension funds, investments, stocks and shares, jewellery and other personal belongings and household contents etc. Liabilities may include mortgages, credit card balances and loans etc.

You should think about who you want to appoint as an Executor(s) in your Will. Your Executor(s) will be responsible for distributing your Estate in accordance with the terms of your Will and for ensuring any liabilities are settled from the Estate.

You should also consider how you would like your Estate to be distributed and to whom. You can make specific gifts of personal items or cash in your Will.

We can assist you by talking through your wishes so that the terms of your Will are prepared to accurately reflect what you want to happen with your Estate on your death.

Who do I need to talk to?

The next step is to contact our firm so we can arrange a convenient meeting to discuss your wishes. We will then be able to prepare the document and arrange for it to be executed by you.

I would like to update my existing Will, how do I do this?

If your circumstances change or you decide you would like to make changes to your existing Will, you should consider making a Codicil (being a subsidiary document that amends and sits alongside your Will) or new Will. Until you have executed a Codicil or new Will, the terms of your existing Will will continue to have effect on your death. Minor amendments may be effected via a Codicil and more substantial amendments may require a new Will to be prepared.

If you are unsure as to whether your Will requires amendment, please do not hesitate to contact us and we can discuss this with you before guiding you through your options.

If you would like to discuss making a Will or Codicil, please do not hesitate to contact Lisa Berg, Head of Private Client Department at or Amy-Louise Ions at

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Short Richardson and Forth Solicitors Limited is a private limited company registered in England and Wales under company number 10572065, authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No 637150.

Short Richardson and Forth Solicitors Limited is a private limited company constituted and run in accordance with the provisions of the Companies Act 2006. The term “partner” has been used to denote individual senior solicitors employed by Short Richardson and Forth Solicitors Limited.