Having a will drawn up with help will typically set you back anywhere from £100 up to £500 or more, depending on how complicated your situation is. There are cheaper DIY options costing less than 50 quid, but these only suit a small proportion of people who have a simple situation, have a solid understanding of wills and can manage safe storage of their will. Below we explain the options in detail.
Your Options For Drawing Up a Will, and their Costs
There are four main ways to get your will drawn up. Three of them will cost you, and one won’t. Here’s a summary:
|Type||Typical cost||When to use?|
|Solicitor||£125–250 (simple will)|
|£150–300 (complex will)|
|£500+ (specialist will)|
|£200–400 (mirror will)|
|Free options||Zero (but possibly with a charitable donation from your estate)|
Writing a will needn’t break the bank, and as the table shows, you can even get your will written for free. The general rule of thumb is that the more complex your situation is, the more expensive it’s likely to be. Let’s look at the four alternatives in a bit more detail:
1. Using a Solicitor
While it will usually be the most expensive way to draw up your will, using a solicitor can save a lot of stress for those you leave behind, as well as giving you peace of mind, especially if:
- You have any assets overseas, like a holiday home.
- You own all or part of a business and you expect it to form a part of your estate.
- Inheritance Tax is an issue—IHT is paid on estates valued at over £325,000 for an individual or up to £650,000 for a married couple.
- Your family situation is complicated—maybe you have children from a previous marriage, or you need to make special arrangements for children, grandchildren or a family member with a disability.
Using a solicitor means you’re less likely to make mistakes, and it also means your will is stored safely in a fire-proof safe. If you use a solicitor, you’ll be asked questions about:
- Your family and personal circumstances.
- Your assets.
- Who you would like your executors to be. Executors are the people who collect in your assets, pay any debts/taxes etc. and distribute them among the beneficiaries.
- Who you would like to benefit under your will and how (i.e. in what proportions, including specific gifts, charitable legacies and so on).
2. Using a Will-Writing Service
A will-writing service should be cheaper than a solicitor, but make sure you choose one that’s accredited. Will-writing services can work either face-to-face, online or by post. Some banks also offer a will-writing service—ask yours or look online to see if they can help. Whichever one you choose, the process is similar to using a solicitor. A will-writing service might be a good choice for you if:
- You understand the basics of how wills work but want some extra advice to make sure your will is done properly.
- You want to pay less than a solicitor would charge.
- Your will is going to be quite simple. For example, if you’re leaving everything to your immediate family and your estate doesn’t include anything like overseas investments or business assets (if you own a company).
3. The DIY Option to Drawing Up Your Will
In theory, you could write your will on a piece of scrap paper. As long as it’s properly signed and witnessed by two independent adult 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 general rules are tried and tested and they remove any confusion about your intentions—even if the language seems unusual or old-fashioned.
If you do decide to create your own will, it’s advisable to use a template that includes all the standard sections and legal terms. You can get a will template or will pack from stationery shops or online—they usually cost £10 to £30. In general, though, 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.
- You don’t own any overseas property or investments.
- You don’t own all or part of a business.
- Inheritance tax is not likely to be an issue.
- You have no other financial dependents (other than your immediate family).
- There’s nothing in your will that could be misunderstood or considered even slightly unclear or complicated.
The general message is—only use a DIY will if your wishes are clear and simple, and your financial situation isn’t complicated. Yes, it costs next to nothing, but you might be storing up trouble for your family when it comes to sorting out your finances after you’ve died.
4. Free Options: Using solicitors for free through charities
A number of charities provide a will writing service for free—but the charity might expect or encourage you to make a donation out of your estate. The largest will writing schemes are:
- Will Aid this runs in November, with around 1,000 solicitors across the UK taking part. Find out more about Will Aid here.
- Free Wills Month (England and Wales) this runs twice a year, usually in March and October in specific parts of England and Wales. It’s only available to over-55s, though. Find out more about Free Wills Month here.
Why do You Need a Will?
Have you made a will yet? If you haven’t, you’re not alone. According to Royal London Insurance, 59% of people in the UK either don’t have a will, or they have one that’s out of date—that's more than 30 million people!
Not drawing up a will can be devastating for your bereaved family. Dying without a will (or ‘intestate’, to use the legalese) can lead to a complicated situation that may drag on for years until your affairs are sorted out. This can be time-consuming and stressful, not to mention expensive.
So on a very basic level, having a will should give you and your family peace of mind that your wishes are set out on paper, in black and white. It will include details such as:
- How your estate is distributed
- Looking after you children (if they are still young)
- Taking care of your grandchildren if their parents die before you
- Protecting your family’s assets
This is especially important if your estate is complicated, for example if business assets are involved, or perhaps overseas property, or where your estate is large enough that inheritance tax is an important consideration (if your estate is worth more than £325,000 then IHT is an issue).
To summarise, writing your will doesn’t need to be as stressful or expensive as people often think it is. How you go about drawing up your will depend on your personal family and financial situation, and how much help you think you’ll need. Whichever method you choose, shop around to make sure you’re not spending more than you need to.
But do get it done. Your family will thank you. Hopefully not any time soon, but they will thank you eventually.