Write your own Will – and save money

Making a Will is not something any of us like to do, and right now when money is tight it’s an expense that’s often put on the back burner. But it is possible to write your own Will and save on the cost of expensive lawyers … and at least once you’ve done it, you know your precious possessions will go to the people you want to have them should something awful happen to you.

In this article, professional Estate Planner Nick Ingram shares his tips on some of the most important issues you need to bear in mind when writing your Will. Being a careful professional, too, he has asked me to point out that the tips he has given are correct at the time of writing, and are applicable only under current UK law.

However in my opinion the advice he gives is likely to apply – to a large extent – to most “western” countries where laws about succession are similar to those of the UK. So here goes…

Nick Ingram’s tips to consider when writing your Will…

**Do write a Will (or update an existing Will). Never wait for the ‘right time:’ add it to your to-do list now.

**Write a new Will if any significant event or change happens in your life; birth of a child or death of a child or legal adoption of a child, divorce, marriage, death of a beneficiary, falling out with a previous beneficiary, the ‘maturity’ of a child i.e. reaching the age of 18 years, etc.

**If writing your own Will (which you can do) remember the broad concept of your wishes, and make your instructions clear and unambiguous.

**Do not use jargon (that’s for television). State what of what you own is to go where (be that cash or property) in clear terms.

**When dividing something up to be shared out equally, be careful how you divide it; 1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3 = 1, but 33% + 33% + 33% = 99%. Chose your method carefully.

**Your “estate” comprises only the houses or buildings or land that you own and your cash in cash/savings accounts, investments or pension funds, etc.

**If you include businesses in your Will, your instructions must not conflict with the articles of your limited company.

**If there is a person/s that you specifically want excluded from your Will, say so, and why.

**If you do not mention or include provision for people who were previously financially dependent on you, your Will can be challenged.

**If you own something of specific value (be that in monetary or sentimental terms) that you wish to pass to a specific person, name the item and name the person as a separate paragraph in your Will.

**If you wish to leave a legacy for a charity, use the charity’s registered number in preference to its name.  Charities are often known by a name that is not their actual name, or they have a name that is similar to that of another charity.

**For items of little or no value (your CD collection, your car, your rose vase etc.) do not include these in the Will, but list them on a separate document, signed and dated by you, that can be kept with the Will BUT NOT ATTACHED TO THE WILL IN ANY WAY!

**Do not include any beneficiary of your Will, to be an executor of your Will.

**Once you have written a Will, tell people where it is. If it cannot be found, it does not exist.

**Once written, you must date it, sign it and have your signature witnessed by a minimum of 2 people.  An unsigned Will is not a valid Will!

**If your ‘estate’ is complicated with potentially difficult tax implications or perhaps overseas properties or investments, etc., get your Will written by a professional.

**If you wish to destroy a previous Will, just shred it and put it in the trash.

Not the most cheerful of topics – but a very important consideration. Of course, you can have your Will written by your lawyer, at a price! However for more information on (less costly) professional Will writers, click here for the UK … or here … and Google “professional Will writers” to find them in other countries.

And Nick very kindly has said that if you are in the UK, he will happily answer your questions if you drop him a note on nickingram.home@gmail.com .

How does it go? Where there’s a Will, there’s a way?

These books Will help you a lot, too:

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English




  1. Interesting and useful blog Nick – thank you.

    Out of interest, why should a beneficiary of the will not be an executor? I have known instances where this is the case – is it about a potential conflict of interests?

    • Nick Ingram says

      In reply Jane, my opinion on the subject of executors being beneficiaries is this. It is actually quite an onerous, unpaid task. Essentially, the executor is legally responsible for the gathering together and distribution of the estate. Getting all the property together, all the cash, liaising with HMRC, the banks, insurance companies, stockbrokers, IFAs, mortgage companies, those financially dependent, finding beneficiaries, opening accounts for the proceeds of the estate, paying creditors, it goes on and on. It is simply too difficult a task at a time that is quite difficult anyway. What if the amateur executor makes a mistake or fails to uncover a bank account or investment? I’d sue them if I lost out because of an incomplete job. A professional will, of course, charge for this service, anything between 2.5% and 10% of the net value of the estate, but, in my mind, it is worth it.

  2. Useful post Nick, I like how you explain a 1/3+1/3+1/3 is a whole, except when it comes to percentages.

    • Nick Ingram says

      Sarah, it’s very often the apparently minor and seemingly insignificant points that can cause the bigger problems later on. Thank you for your comment.

  3. Such great do-it-yourself tips! Much cheaper to do it for free than to buy even an el cheapo “willmaker” software package.

  4. Some people would call this will writing “morbid” but I call it foresight. None of us knows when he will leave this world so to lessen the difficulties of those left behind, it is only fitting to put our wishes into a will. Writing one’s own will is not only frugal but convenient because you can choose the convenient time to do it.