Making a will if you live in Scotland
Whatever your age, it is important to have an up-to-date and valid will.
Adrienne Betteley, a Macmillan Cancer Support Programme Manager and Diane Miller, discuss why making a will is important.
To talk to someone about your questions and concerns, you can call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00
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Dying without a will means that your wishes for who you would like to leave your estate (property, personal possessions and money) to can’t be guaranteed.
Although I found it difficult to make a will, I now know that when I do die the people who I love and care for will be able to benefit from my material possessions.
If you die without a will, this is known as dying intestate. When someone dies intestate, it often takes much longer to deal with the estate and it can be more complicated. There are strict rules known as intestacy rules, which set out who should deal with the deceased’s affairs and who should inherit their estate. This may mean that the people who inherit your estate aren’t the people you would have chosen.
A professionally written will can help reduce any problems or disputes in the future. Although you can write a will yourself, it’s best to use a solicitor when making or updating your will to make sure that you follow legal procedures. This process doesn’t have to be lengthy or expensive. It’s worth shopping around or asking for a quote before committing yourself to a specific solicitor.
If you need help to find a local solicitor, you can contact the Law Society of Scotland.
Things to think about when making your willBack to top
It will help to think about the following things before you meet with a solicitor.
What you have to leave in your will and what is the value of your estate
You may want to start by making a list of everything you own (assets) and how much they’re worth. This might include your house, your car, your jewellery, bank and building society accounts, saving accounts and life insurance policies.
Next, make a list of everything you owe (liabilities) and how much it adds up to. This includes your outstanding mortgage balance, any overdrafts, credit card debts and bank loans.
Add together your total assets and subtract the amount of your total liabilities to find the value of your estate.
Who to include in your will
Make a list of the family and friends you want to remember in your will and consider what you want to leave them. For example, you might want to give a particular person a specific amount of money, or an item with real or sentimental value, such as a piece of jewellery. You may also want to consider leaving money to an organisation or a charity. You can find out more if you are thinking about leaving a donation to Macmillan in your will.
Other important information to include in your will
Other things you’ll need to think about include:
- who you want to appoint as your executors (people responsible for settling your affairs)
- who you want to be the legal guardian(s) of your children (if you have children and they are under 16)
- who you want to look after other dependants
- what, if any, specific funeral instructions you have
- who you would like to look after your pets, if you have any.
If you need help or more information about including these things in your will, talk to your solicitor. They can also tell you about the role of your executors.
You can find more information about making a will from organisations such as Age Scotland and the Law Society of Scotland.
Meeting with a solicitorBack to top
When you meet with your solicitor, it will help to take your completed lists of:
- what you have to leave
- who you want to include in your will
- names of your executors and
- names of guardian(s) for your children.
After your initial meeting with a solicitor, you should arrange a follow-up appointment to check that your will has been drafted according to your wishes. Once you’re happy with it, it will need to be witnessed and signed.
It’s important to keep your will updated to reflect major changes in your life. For example, if you’ve had children or grandchildren, or met a new partner, you might need to update it to include them. Or you may need to update it to take account of changes in your finances.
Leave your up-to-date will somewhere it will be secure and easily found. For example, you could leave it with your solicitor. You should keep a copy for yourself and make sure your executors know where it is.