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4 March 2022

Need a will? We can help

Woodcock Notary Public can help with writing your will, and can offer expert advice to help you get your affairs in order.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Writing a will

Writing your will can often be a gloomy subject, but it’s important to have your affairs in order to ensure that there is no confusion after your death.

There are several benefits to writing your will, not least of which is the peace of mind that it brings to you knowing that your loved ones will be looked after. Making a will can also allow you to make sure you don’t pay more inheritance tax than you need to. 

You can write your will yourself, although it is best to go through it with someone independent – especially if the will is complicated. It’s also important to note that the creation of a will cannot be completely done by you as the will must be formally witnessed and signed to make it legally valid. 

How to write a will

As mentioned above, a will details what you want to happen to your estate after your death. You have the freedom to leave your estate to whoever or whatever you want, but your will must make it clear what you want to be left where. The general guidance is that your Will should set out the following:

  • Who you want to benefit from your will
  • Who should look after any children under 18 years old
  • Who should be responsible for sorting out your estate and carrying out your wishes (the executor)

Making sure your will is legal

In order to be considered legally valid, your will must meet certain requirements. If it does not meet these requirements, there will be no legal requirement for your wishes to be carried out. In order to make your will legal, you must:

  • Be over 18 at the time writing
  • Make the voluntarily choice to make the will
  • Make the will in writing
  • Be of sound mind at the time of writing
  • Sign it in the presence of two witnesses (both aged 18 or over).


If you make any changes to your will, it must go through the same process.

Can you change your will after it’s made?

Yes, you can always update your will if circumstances change and you want to make amendments. To do so, you will need to either make an official alteration, (known as a codicil) or create a new will from scratch. 

It is recommended that you review your will every 5 years and when your circumstances go through a major change.

If your will is complicated, you might need legal advice

Wills can sometimes be legally complicated, and navigating through their complexities on your own can be tricky. A lawyer can help you to understand how to formulate your will in these circumstances. You might need to consult a lawyer if one of the following applies to you:

  • You share a property with someone who is not your legal partner
  • Your home is outside the UK
  • You have several family members who may make a claim on your will
  • You have a business 
  • You intend to leave money to someone who is unable to care for themselves

Are wills made abroad valid in the UK?

Yes. Since 1964, all wills made in foreign countries are valid in England and Wales. This is according to the Wills Act 1963, which states that, provided the will is made in accordance with the rules in the place it’s made in, then it will be valid in England. This means that a Spanish will by a Spanish national who lived and owned assets in England would have their will legally recognised in England.

Will writing for expats

If you’re an expat (a British citizen living abroad) then it’s important you familiarise yourself with the advice surrounding wills. Due to different countries having different rules around inheritance, you need to make sure that as many of your assets as possible are protected by your will. 

Inheritance tax is tax that you pay on your estate after your death. How much you pay depends on how valuable your estate is. In the UK, inheritance tax depends on where your assets are. If you’re a UK domicile then you pay inheritance tax on your assets around the world, whereas if you’re a non-UK domicile, you will only pay inheritance tax on your UK assets. 

Depending on their rules, foreign countries may also tax your estate. This is why it is important to understand the inheritance tax rules of wherever you are living. In some cases, you will be charged inheritance tax in more than one  country. Consulting a legal professional is the best way to ensure that you are able to leave behind as much of your estate as possible.

Do you need separate wills for separate countries?

While you do not need to have a separate will for each of the countries you own assets in, there is no rule against it. It is, however, recommended that each will you have clearly sets out that any other will cannot be used to contradict or replace it. This prevents significant confusion when your wishes are being carried out. Alternatively, you can have one will that encompasses all your assets in all the countries they are in. The same will can be translated into however many languages is appropriate.  

READY FOR ASSISTANCE?

If you have any questions about our notary, apostille or consular services,
contact Woodcock Notary Public today.

Call us on 0330 133 6480 or email info@woodcocknotarypublic.com.

If you have any questions about our notary, apostille or consular services, contact Woodcock Notary Public today.

Call us on 0330 133 6480 or email info@woodcocknotarypublic.com.