Making a will

Not making a will could have serious consequences for those you leave behind. If you die without putting your affairs in order, your money, personal belongings and even your home could go to the person you least want to have them.

Although it’s possible to write a will by yourself, you may prefer to use a solicitor as there are various legal formalities to be followed to ensure that your will is valid. You may also need legal advice for more complicated matters such as how Inheritance Tax might affect your estate.

Some voluntary organisations such as the Citizens Advice can also assist you with writing a will.

What is a ‘grant of probate’ or ‘confirmation’?

This is a legal document which confirms that the executor of a will has the authority to deal with the deceased person’s assets, for example, property, money and possessions. If there is no will, the next of kin (e.g. spouse, civil partner or children) can apply to deal with the estate. In this case they apply for a ‘grant of letters of administration’, which gives them the same authority as the grant of probate. More information is available on the HMRC website.

If the deceased lives in Scotland, there is a different process and ‘confirmation’ is applied for.

Action point

Citizens Advice have a useful self-help advice website where you can find information about making a will if you live in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

For more information about how to write your will, visit making a will on GOV.UK and see the Age UK guide, Wills and Estate Planning.