Making a will
A will (sometimes called a Last Will and Testament) is a legal document which explains what you want to be done with your property after your death. It can also state who you would like to look after any children you have, and include details of what funeral arrangements you would like.
Anyone who is over 18 and of sound mind (able to understand what making a will means) can make a will. For a will to be legally valid, you must sign it in the presence of two people, neither of whom can be beneficiaries or partners of beneficiaries in your will.
Even if you're in good health, it's a good idea to make a will to ensure that, should anything happen to you, your wishes will be known, and to avoid leaving a lot of legal or financial issues for those who survive you. However, nobody can force you to make or change a will.
If you should die without making a will, your property will be divided up according to the rules of intestacy, which may not reflect your wishes.
You can make a will on your own (you can find DIY kits for making a will online or in stationers), or get help from an expert such as a solicitor. Many charities also offer will-making services in return for a small donation or legacy. It's usually best to get legal and financial advice when making a will so that you know that it will be valid and accurately reflect the value of your property, finances and possessions.
Once you have made your will, you should remember to keep it up to date if your circumstances change - for example if you sell your home, get married or divorced, or have a new child or grandchild whom you would like to benefit from your will.
Speak to a solicitor to get advice on making a will. You can find local solicitors online or in your local Yellow Pages.
Citizens' Advice Bureau has lots of information on making a will, including how to keep your documents safe and what to do if you need to change or cancel your will.
Age UK has information on making a will, as well as a free legal advice line where you can speak to a qualified person who will talk you through the process.
The Money Advice Service website provides advice on wills and estate planning.