Technically, the Will writing service at LegalWills.co.uk is not a Will template, but rather, 160 templates, offering an infinite number of different Wills. We guide you through the process of preparing your Will by stepping you through ten sections. You answer questions as you go, which directs you through to the next section. Just like a choose you own adventure novel, or Bandersnatch on Netflix.
In this article we will provide an overview of the process, so that you can understand ahead of time, the types of questions that you will be asked, and a sense of the information that goes into a well drafted Last Will and Testament.
What is a Will Template?
Everybody needs a Will, but most UK adults don’t have one. The main reason is that the process has traditionally been an expensive and inconvenient one. It’s not surprising that many people get confused by the cost of a Will, and as a result look for ways to prepare their own Will.
A codicil to a Will is a document, attached to an existing Will, that makes reference to that Will, and describes a change to a particular clause in the Will.
For example, a Codicil might say
In the attached Will, for clause IV “Executor” change the name of the Executor from Jane Green, to Robert Brown.
The only reason for writing a codicil is to save the time and effort in re-typing a completely new document. However, in this article we will explain why, in 2019 and beyond, this type of document has no place in a Will writing plan.
How do I write a Codicil?
You can handwrite or type a Codicil. It should state at the top it is a codicil, and make reference to the document it is altering. You should then describe the clause to be changed, and explain the changes.
A Last Will and Testament is a document that makes key appointments for you, and describes the distribution of your assets, after you have passed away. So how is it possible for this document to cost £1,000 to create with a solicitor, or be completely free if you download a form from the Internet.
There are essentially four approaches to writing a Will;
Work with a professional Will writer
Use a solicitor to write your Will
Use an online service, or interactive software
Use a blank piece of paper or fill-in-the-blanks form
Option 1: Work with a Professional Will Writer
We need to make the distinction between a solicitor, and a “professional Will writer”. Will writing in the UK is an unregulated profession. Anybody can set themselves up as a Will writer, no qualifications are required.
Every single adult should have a Will in place, but most do not. If you are reading this, you may have given some thought to writing a Will, but not sure how to get started. You have seen different approaches to writing a Will, but you are not sure which services offer a quality, affordable Will writing service, without questionable extras. Hopefully this overview will help you take the next step.
Why you need a Will.
A Will allows you to describe the distribution of your estate. It puts somebody in charge of the process, and it allows you to do things like name a guardian for your children, make charitable bequests and set up trusts.
If you die without a Will, the courts take over. Your family and loved ones will have to work their way through a court process that will eventually do the work of your Will, but probably not the way you would have wanted.
The courts will put somebody in charge of the process. Hopefully this is somebody with the administrative skills needed, and a person who has a good rapport with your family and your beneficiaries. They are going to have to work with the people you have left behind to distribute everything you own according to a legal formula. In the meantime your assets will be frozen.
Then your assets will likely be liquidated and divided according to the laws of “intestate succession”. If you are married without children, then it is possible that your intended distribution plan would match the intestate succession plan. But in almost every other case, your assets will be divided in a very strange way.
A Mirror Will is actually two Wills, usually created by spouses or partners, that names each other as the main beneficiary, with each Will having a backup plan in case both partners are involved in a common accident. It is one of the most common approaches for couples when preparing their Last Will and Testament.
A Mirror Will is very different to a joint Will which is one document that serves the needs of two people. Joint Wills used to be popular many years ago, primarily as a time saving tool. It saved the Will writer having to type out two very similar Wills, when only the main beneficiary was different.
Joint Wills were also popular in a time when the patriarch of the family was considered to own the assets, and a wife was thought to not have an equal claim over the estate.
However, in modern times joint Wills are rarely used. Attitudes towards asset ownership, and the efficiency of Will writing software means that there is absolutely no advantage in preparing a joint Will. But there are many disadvantages.
The main disadvantage of a joint Will is that it creates confusion when one partner writes a new document revoking previous Wills, and it becomes unclear whether both parties are bound by the terms in the old joint document. In general, joint Wills should be avoided.
What are the different types of Wills?
There are a few other variations on the joint Will or Mirror Will. A Mutual Will is a pair of Wills that a made after a legal agreement is put in place to dispose of combined assets in a certain way. What makes a Mutual Will unique is that neither can be revoked (or cancelled) without agreement from both partners. There are many resources online that describe a Mutual Will as the same as a Joint Will. This is incorrect. Mutual Wills are extremely unusual, and are rarely the best option. Typically one person makes a standard Will, and then contractually ties the second person into an irrevocable Will. It’s a legal challenge waiting to happen!
The term “Reciprocal Will” can also be used in place of either a mutual Will or a Mirror Will. A Reciprocal Will simply means that the two documents have been written to benefit each other. Continue reading →