The reality is that you can put off making a will until it is too late. Having no will in place can cause all sorts of problems for the people you leave behind. It could also mean you don’t have a say in what your loved ones are left.

But if you don’t know how it works, making a will can seem hard. You may not have time. Or you may be frightened to ask uncomfortable questions.

Don’t worry - we’re here to help. Here’s what you need to know to start writing your will.

Will I need to list every item I own?

Thankfully, you will not have to include everything you own in your will. Here’s what you’ll likely want to list in your will.

Start with your assets that are easiest to value. Common examples include:

  • your savings
  • your valuable objects, such as jewellery.

Then move on to the things that change in value. These will be harder to estimate exactly. Examples include:

  • stock market investments - shares, bonds and funds
  • property – your house, plus any investment properties, land, or even a parking space that you own.

Lastly, think about any sentimental items that you want particular people to have. This might include books, clothing and ornaments.

Can I include friends as well as my family?

People with families usually want to leave their estate to pass to their family members.

But what if you don't have a family, or if you want leave things to people outside the family? For example:

  • You have a friend to whom you would like to leave a particular personal possession.
  • You have no surviving family and wish a friend or friends to inherit your estate.
  • You want to leave something to godchildren who are not family members.

Good news. You can include anyone in your will – as long as they are named as beneficiaries.

Does my will need updating regularly?

Once you’ve drafted your will and ensured its valid, you can relax. You don’t need to update your will on a regular basis.

However, if you wish to change your will in a major way, it is advisable to make a new one.

The new will should begin with a clause stating that it revokes all previous wills and codicils. The old will should be destroyed. Revoking a will means that the will is no longer legally valid.

It is vital that you have legal guidance to ensure that your will is valid.

For more information about the legal terms used when writing a will, search our dictionary below or visit the Legal Choices law dictionary.