How do I make a will?
The benefits of a will
A will allows you to decide who will get your money and assets when you die. Your assets are all the things you own. They can include things like your house or shares. Under Scottish Law if you live in Scotland your spouse and dependants (children & grandchildren) have a legal right to inherit part of your estate. If you dis-inherit your spouse or any of your children they can challenge your will and claim their share of your assets, although this does not include property or land. Making a will means that you can:
- Avoid disputes about inheritance,
- Make arrangements for your funeral,
- Make specific gifts, for example, if some of your belongings have sentimental value,
- Plan tax payments,
- Set up trusts, and
- Appoint a trusted person or people to deal with your money and assets after you die. These are known as ‘executors’.
How do I make one?
You can make a will yourself or see a solicitor. You can buy a ‘will pack’ where you can fill in a will yourself, but these are only suitable if your will is going to be very simple.
You can make a will yourself or see a solicitor.
You should see a solicitor about your will if:
- Your will is not simple. This will depend on what your money and assets you have, and who you want to leave them to,
- If your money and assets are very valuable and worth a lot of money,
- You have any questions about your will or need advice,
- You share a property with someone who isn’t your husband, wife or civil partner,
- You want to leave money or property to a dependant who can’t care for themselves. This includes children under 18 years old
- You have several family members who may make a claim on your will such as a second spouse or children from another marriage,
- Your permanent home is outside the UK,
- You have property overseas, or
- You have a business.
You can find a solicitor by contacting:
Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP)
Keep records of solicitors that specialise in wills and trusts. You can search for solicitors in your area on their website or you can call them. They can send you a list in the post.
Telephone: 020 3752 3700
The Law Society of Scotland
Telephone: 0131 226 7411
Some banks and other financial institutions have will writing services, which you have to pay to use. You can ask your bank, or search on the internet to find these services.
The Law Society of Scotland has produced a video and guide to making a will.
Where should I keep my will?
You need to keep your will safe so it can be found when it is needed. You should tell your executors where your will is.
You can keep your will somewhere safe at home. Or you can store it in the following places. They may charge a fee to store it.
- At your bank,
- At your solicitors,
- At a company that offers the storage of wills - you can search for these online, or
- At the London Probate Service
The London Probate Service
Telephone: 0207 421 8509
Address: Principal Registry of the Family Division, 7th Floor, 42-49 High Holborn, First Avenue House, Holborn, London WC1V 6NP.
What happens if I don’t make a will?
If you don’t have a will when you die, this is called ‘dying intestate’. If you die without a will:
- Some things might not happen the way you’d like them to,
- Your money and assets might not be shared out in the way you think is fair,
- Things can be more complicated,
- A relative might need to apply to court to get what is known a bond of caution before they apply for confirmation of the estate and if your estate is large they would need to apply to be appointed as an executor of your estate, or
- Your money and assets will go to your relatives in a set order of priority.
The rules about who inherits your estate if you live in Scotland are set out in the Succession (Scotland) Act 1964 and the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006.
If you want to find out who will inherit your money and assets if you die without a will you can use the following government website.
If you have questions about intestacy you can get advice from a solicitor.
You can find out more on the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service website.