Well, it’s easy if you get somebody to do it for you anyway! I just had my will done by a very lovely woman called Kathy who I would recommend to anybody (anybody who lives in the South East of the UK anyway).
I learned some interesting things during the process. For example, the documentation itself can be very simple depending on the complexity of your estate so there isn’t much money in it for solicitors. Therefore many solicitors aren’t that keen on doing a will but if they do so they may try to persuade you to name them as executors in your will – that’s where they can make a profit. The woman who did my will specialises in wills and she didn’t seem to get involved in that side of things – at least she didn’t offer and I didn’t ask.
If you have more than a certain level of assets (if I remember rightly it’s only £16,000) your survivor has to apply for probate. There can be quite a lot of work involved in being an executor so you may like there to be more than one executor. The fact that there are two of them may alleviate the emotional strain for both.
One of the key reasons that persuaded me to get a will was that I have a partner but we are not married – which means she has no claim on anything if I die intestate. Interestingly, if you make your will without a view to getting married later then it becomes invalid if you do get married. So, even if you don’t intend to get married it makes sense to make your will with a view to marriage anyway. That way your will is not invalidated if you change your mind.
Before I consulted Kathy about my will I had considered doing it myself. As long as your will is done properly there’s no reason why you can’t do it yourself. There are lots of opportunities to make a mess – for example, nobody who you use as a witness can also be a beneficiary. If you do plan on doing it yourself make sure you get everything right or your wishes may not be carried out exactly as you wish. Another reason to seek professional advice is that you may end up leaving a substantial amount of your estate to the tax man if you don’t have proper Inheritance Tax Planning advice.