It’s a crazy fact that 97% of adults in the UK haven’t got an up-to-date will. And — let’s face it — why would we? It’s just always felt so… boring. Finding a solicitor, reading all that legal bumf, paying up to £400 a pop.
It’s time this stuff got easier. Because that 97%? That’s millions of us who could end up dying intestate. (Legal shorthand for you having no say about who gets your stuff after you die. Basically a nightmare of paperwork and legal fees for your family.)
In an age where you can order Korean fried chicken in 30 minutes from your phone, surely you should also be able to sort out this most vital piece of life admin while you’re waiting for the takeaway guy?
The good news: you don’t need to use a solicitor to make a will in most cases. The correct wording and signing of your Last Will & Testament is what makes it legal.
So, here’s how to make your will yourself online in 15 minutes. With step-by-step guides. For just £50. (And win at life in the process.)
(Not got time for the tutorial? Start your will today.)
1. Get your stuff together
Before you start, it’s a good idea to have thought about the following things:
- Things you own that you want to leave to people. This could be something as big as car or a gift of money, to something as small and precious as a photo album or your prized cactus collection.
- A list of any bank accounts, pensions or life insurance policies. You won’t need the account numbers, just the name of the bank or provider.
- An idea of who you want to execute the wishes in your will, and be guardians to your kids or pets if you have any. We recommend chatting to these people first to make sure they’re happy.
2. Decide who you want to to carry out your wishes
The person who’s in charge of carrying out the instructions in your will is known as an ‘executor’. This is a really important job, as they’re responsible for all the admin involved in winding down your estate. This includes settling any debts, closing down accounts, and distributing any gifts, money or messages.
Most people choose a family member or close friend. We recommend choosing two people, because some jobs (like selling a house) require sign off from two executors. It’s also nice for the main executor to have some moral and practical support.
Heads up: some will companies and solicitors write themselves into your will as your executor, and then take a cut out of your estate after you die. Which is just plain wrong. So we never do that.
3. Decide who you want to look after your kids and pets
If you have children or pets, you’ll need to assign a legal guardian for them. It’s a myth that your next of kin (like a sister or mum) will automatically get custody of your children, so nominating someone to look after them is vitally important.
You can choose one person, or two if they’re a couple. Most people choose a close friend or family member. It’s a good to run the idea past them first, and check they’re capable of taking on the job if something happens to you.
4. Put the fun in your funeral
You’re not legally obliged to leave funeral wishes in your will. But it’s DEFINITELY the most creative bit. And a good idea if you’re not into the traditional hymns and horse-drawn carriage thing.
You don’t even have to be buried. Get your ashes pressed into a vinyl. Turn yourself into a tree. Or donate your body to science.
Do you want a gangster rap soundtrack? A superhero dress code? Or to skip the ceremony and just have a party? Record your wishes, and make sure your loved ones know how you want to be remembered.
You can read our interview with a modern funeral celebrant.
5. Stop putting it off
It’s your death. And you can put as little or as much effort into planning it as you like. But remember: by spending 15 minutes today to take care of the basic legalities, you’re saving your friends and family a truckload of admin and heartache after you go.
Plus, thinking about everything and everyone you love can be strangely life-affirming. Why not plan an evening in with friends and a few bottles and do it together? I bet you’ll never feel more alive.