DIY wills – what you need to know

Money Advice Service

Templates for DIY wills are cheap and easy to find – you can get them online or from stationery shops. But it’s not always a good idea to write your will yourself. We’ll help you to decide.

Your options for writing your own will

In theory, you could scribble your will on a piece of scrap paper.

As long as it was properly signed and witnessed by two adult independent witnesses who are present at the time you sign your will, it should be legally binding. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Most wills follow some general rules for what you say and how you say it.

These standard ways of writing things are tried and tested and they remove any confusion about what you mean – even if the language seems unusual at first.

Using the wrong wording could mean that your instructions aren’t followed, or even that your will isn’t valid.

So it’s a good idea to use a template that has the standard sections and legal terms already included.

You can get a will template or will pack from stationery shops and online services – they usually cost £10 to £30.

When it’s a good idea to write your own will

In general you should only write your own will if your wishes are very simple, for example, if you’re married and:

  • You want to leave everything to your husband or wife, and
  • If they die before you, you want to leave everything to your children

If there’s anything more complicated than that – for example, if you have step-children or you aren’t married to your partner – you should probably use a solicitor or a will writing service.

When you shouldn’t write your own will

You should definitely use professional help to write your will if:

  • You own property abroad
  • You’re trying to reduce your Inheritance Tax bill
  • You have foreign investments or bank accounts
  • You own a business that you’re leaving to someone as part of your will
  • You have people who are financially dependent on you other than your immediate family
  • Your will includes any wishes that might be misunderstood or are even slightly complex

What are the risks of a DIY will?

The general message is – only use a DIY will if your wishes are very simple and your financial situation isn’t complicated.

You might save money up front compared with using a professional service, but if you get anything wrong you could be stirring up trouble for your family and friends when it comes to sorting out your finances after you’ve died.

Remember that, if you use a will template, the company that supplies it won’t take any responsibility for your will being correctly made.

If you make any mistakes which cause problems when your will is read, there won’t be any legal comeback at all.

If you get it badly wrong, it could even mean that your will is invalid and the law decides who your money and property should go to.

Read our guide to learn more on What happens if you don’t leave a will

If you do decide to write your own will

If you’re happy to write your own will, make absolutely sure you’ve covered these key points.

  • Make sure the will is signed, dated and witnessed correctly. The template should show you what you need to do.
  • Carefully check your spelling – be extra careful with the spelling of people’s names.
  • Be specific – for example, don’t just leave everything to ‘my wife’ – use your wife’s full name.
  • Destroy any old wills – if you already have a will, make sure you destroy the old one and make sure the new one clearly states that it revokes the old one. The template you use should give you instructions on how to do this properly.
  • Tell your executor where the will is to be kept. They’ll need to know when you die.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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Some important information about Rest Less Money

We want you to understand the positives, but also the limitations of using our site. We operate in a journalistic manner and therefore all information, guidance or suggestions provided are intended to be general in nature, and you should not rely on any of the information on the site in connection with the making of any financial decision.

When we set out to build Rest Less Money, we wanted to be a trusted place where you could find helpful information about financial matters affecting the over 50s. As a free to use resource, we try hard to provide the best information we can, but we cannot guarantee that we won’t occasionally make mistakes. So please note that you use the information on our site at your own risk, and we can’t accept liability if things go wrong.

Key things to remember when using Rest Less Money:

We do not offer financial advice – As a journalistic site, it’s important to know that we do not provide financial advice. You should always do your own research before choosing any financial product so that you can be certain it is right for you and your specific circumstances. If you are in any doubt, please seek professional financial advice from a regulated financial advisor.

No Liability – please note that you use the information on Rest Less Money at your own risk and we can’t accept liability for how you choose to use the information given on our site. We will often provide links to content or products and services available on other third-party websites. These are provided purely for your convenience and we cannot be held responsible for any content, or any of the products and services offered on any website that we link to.

 

Accuracy of Information – We try to make sure that all the information provided on Rest Less Money is correct at the time of publishing as we want it to be the most helpful resource possible. Sadly, we are not perfect however, and so we can make no guarantees as to the completeness, accuracy, adequacy or suitability of the information available on the site.
Whilst we work hard to try and provide accurate information, deals and prices can change, so whilst they may be correct at the time of writing, providers may subsequently decide to alter them later – so always double check first.

A final note on the Rest Less Community Forums – always remember that anyone can post their opinion on the Rest Less Community Forums, so it can be very different from our own opinion and may not be factual or well researched. Always be wary of any content posted on the forums and be sure to do your own research and due diligence on anything suggested. 

We hope you find Rest Less Money a useful resource and we would welcome your feedback at [email protected] on how to make it even better. For more information on any of the above you can read our full terms and conditions.

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