Misconceptions about making a Will

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Recent research has highlighted that there are many misconceptions about making a Will, and this has contributed to two thirds of adults in the UK (that’s 70%) having no Will in place.

This year is the 10th anniversary of Remember a Charity's Will Writing Campaign, Remember a Charity Week.

Wishing to research the subject further, Legacy Officer, Carolyn Jones, met with Law alumnus, Paul Maddock (LLB 2008), who impressed the importance of making provisions for loved ones and reflected upon what can happen if you do not have a Will in place:

“Having a Will in place is important because it provides clarity to your loved ones regarding the distribution of your estate on your death. Failure to put a Will in place results in your estate being distributed via the rules of intestacy, meaning your personal wishes may not be carried out.”

Misunderstandings can put people off making their Will, or can cause problems in estates administration.

Some of these beliefs include:

  • You have to be wealthy to make a Will
  • Making a Will is a complex
  • Once you make a Will you cannot amend it
  • You can choose anyone to be a witness to your Will and be your executor
  • That when you die, everything automatically goes to loved ones (i.e. wife, husband, civil partner, children)

Research indicates that regardless of your wealth, everyone should have a Will in place.

When you decide to make your Will is usually prompted by life ‘triggers’ - for instance, buying a house, getting married, living with your civil partner, the birth or adoption of a child, a divorce, retirement or sadly the death of a loved one

Pablo Picasso (1962, By Argentina. Revista Vea y Lea)

Even wealthy people sometimes leave it too late to make their Will.

Pablo Picasso died in 1981 aged 91 without a Will in place. This resulted in his high-value estate taking six years to distribute, causing bitterness between heirs and incurring a settlement bill of 30 million dollars.

Some Wills can be complex, however, this is dependent upon your personal circumstances. For instance, if you are divorced and/or have children you should seek advice on making a Will from the relevant experts. If you have a child/children under the age of 18, you will need to consider who shall act as a guardian in the event of yours/your partner’s death. Most Wills are straightforward and are simple to make. 

A Will can be amended at any time, you can make a new Will or make a Codicil, which is witnessed and attached to your current Will.

On average it costs around £150 for a single Will and around £250 for a mirror (joint Will). However, bear in mind should you require a Trust Fund or Lasting Power of Attorney these will come at an additional cost to making your Will. Always seek legal advice from an expert.

There are many ways to make a Will these days. Some may consider the DIY option, others meeting a professional expert face-to-face or some may opt for online will writing services. The key is researching what is best for you, your family and your circumstances so that you are able to make an informed decision and weigh-up the service you will receive for the money you will pay.

There are set rules regarding who can act as an executor or witness when making a Will. For example, a witness cannot be a beneficiary of your Will. If you do not observe these rules, this can void your Will.

Lastly, the common misconception that your estate will automatically go to a loved one (such as a spouse) in the event of death. This is correct in some cases under the rules of intestacy. However, a Will should be in place if you have dependent children, living with your spouse, or civil partner, have specific wishes regarding your estate or your funeral and if you own your property with someone else or have a property overseas.

You should always seek professional, expert advice when making your Will.

Further information can be found online at:


Find out more about Legacy giving at the University of Liverpool by visiting our website, or contacting Carolyn Jones, Legacy Officer, via: carolyn.jones@liverpool.ac.uk or calling +44 (0)151 795 1067.