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Guide to making a Will

Why make a Will?

For most of us making a Will does not seem to be a very urgent requirement. Due to the marvels of modern-day science, we all expect to live for years and have no need to arrange our affairs. No one regrets not making a Will – but thousands of people regret that someone close didn’t. Many people each year die without having made a Will and, consequently, leave behind legal problems and, in some cases, financial uncertainty for their loved-ones. These problems are largely avoidable.

If you do not leave behind a valid Will, the laws of Intestacy govern who inherits your estate. This can lead to a situation where your wishes and intentions will not be carried out and your friends, favourite charities and relatives may get nothing. Husbands and wives assume, quite wrongly, that the surviving partner will inherit the entire estate as next of kin. This will only be true in certain circumstances, depending on the ownership of the family home and the size of the estate.

What goes into a Will?


You will need to name the people you wish to carry out the administration of your estate after your death. Administration of an estate can be a highly personal and complicated task. It is recommended, therefore, that you appoint two executors to manage your affairs. We would suggest that one is a member of your family or a close friend, and one is a professional, such as a solicitor. You should always check with the people you wish to appoint as Executors that they are happy to take on the role.

The Executors will be responsible for collecting in, and distributing, the estate. This involves: tracing all assets and liabilities; preparing a valuation of the estate; paying off all liabilities, including Inheritance Tax; realises the remainder of the estate by selling the assets; locates the beneficiaries; and distributes the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will.

Mills Chody would recommend appointing a professional Executor to deal with the valuation of the estate, applying for the grant of probate, liasing with HM Revenue & Customs, and tracing the beneficiaries. In addition, the appointment of a professional Executor provides you with: continuity; security and reliability; impartiality; experience; and specialist knowledge.


You will need to set out exactly what you want each of your beneficiaries to have. Beneficiaries can be family, friends or even charities. There are many different ways of leaving your estate to your beneficiaries:

  • You can make gifts to various people. These can take the form of specific gifts, such as a piece of jewellery or furniture, or cash gifts;
  • You can leave your entire estate to a group of beneficiaries with instructions on how the estate is to be split;
  • You can make a gift of your home, or give someone the right to reside in your property until their death;
  • You can place requirements and restrictions on the gifts you make. One of the most common examples of this is leaving money to a young person with the condition that he or she reaches a certain age before they inherit the money;
  • You can also set up a trust to be created out of your estate.


If you have children under the age of 18, you may need to name someone to take on the responsibility of their welfare if you were to die. The most common method of appointing a Guardian is in a Will. Whatever your individual circumstances, we can offer advice relating to guardianship of children so that you can have peace of mind knowing that you, and not the Courts, will decide on the choice of Guardian.

Other Wishes

You can specify any other wishes that you have in your Will. You can specify whether you wish to be buried or cremated, and you can list any particular requirements you have for your funeral. You can also set out any memorial wishes.

Inheritance Tax

Inheritance Tax is a tax paid on assets that you own at the date of your death. The tax is payable on the value of your estate over the current Inheritance Tax Nil Rate Band (currently £325,000). The current rate of tax payable is 40%. Therefore, tax is payable in most circumstances on estates worth over £325,000. It is possible to transfer your Nil Rate Band to your spouse or civil partner on your death, so that they will not pay Inheritance Tax on the first £650,000 of their estate.

For more information, please feel free to contact our Wills and Probate team to discuss this.

Helpful Information

When you attend a meeting with us to discuss the draft of your will it would be helpful, although not essential, if you could bring the following information along with you:

  • Your personal details, including full name, address and date of birth
  • A description of your assets and liabilities, such as property, valuables, bank accounts, shares, insurance policies and pensions
  • Details of who you wish to benefit from your estate, including full names and addresses
  • Details of any charities you wish to make a donation to
  • Your children’s details and any provisions you wish to make for them, including details of the Guardian you wish to appoint
  • Any other wishes you may have, such as memorial or funeral wishes

This article is for information purposes only and is not legal advice. It should not be acted or relied upon and legal advice should be sought before applying any of the information in this article to any facts or circumstances.

For more information, or to discuss any issues arising from this article, please do not hesitate to contact us on +44 (0)20 8909 0400 or by email at

226-228 Kenton Road

Tel: +44 (0)20 8909 0400
Fax: +44 (0)20 8907 0128

388 Uxbridge Road
Hatch End

Tel: +44 (0)20 8428 2272
Fax: +44 (0)20 8420 1351

25 Manchester Square

Tel: +44 (0)20 7224 0025
Fax: +44 (0)20 7935 6469