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Types of Wills

While it’s not something we like to think about, making a Will is incredibly important, as it ensures that your loved ones receive the things you have earmarked for them - whether these are sentimental items or a share of your savings.

Without a Will, the law steps in and shares out your assets. Usually, this means a spouse or partner first, followed by children, grandchildren, parents and then closest next of kin.

If there are no relatives, then assets are passed on to the government, crown, Duchies of Cornwall or Lancaster for charitable ventures. If you intended to leave something to a friend, it’s unlikely to go to them unless written into a Will.

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What types of Wills are there?

A Will sets out clear instructions about what you’d like to happen to your possessions after you’re gone. Many people find that this gives them peace of mind, as they know that their wishes will be carried out properly. There are several different types of Wills available, you just need to choose the one that fits your needs.

Here is a quick guide to the most common types of Will in the UK.

Single Will

This is the perfect way to protect the assets of one person, as it allows you to decide about your own circumstances. You can specify the names of friends, family members or organisations you’d like your estate to be split between and what percentage each will receive.

Key features

  • Individual Will
  • You can choose your executors
  • Specify who will look after your children or dependants
  • Make it clear what gifts you want to leave
  • Specify who the remainder of your estate is split between
single mum with child

Joint Wills

This is the same as a Single Will, with the only difference being that it is signed by two people - usually a married couple - who are leaving their assets to each other. These aren’t very common anymore, as they’re viewed as problematic and cannot be changed after the first partner/spouse dies.

Key features

  • A Single Will signed by two people
  • You both choose your executors
  • Specify together who will look after your children or dependants
  • Make it clear as a couple what gifts you want to leave
  • Specify who the remainder of your estate is split between
married couple

Mirror Wills

If spouses or partners want to make Wills that are almost identical - the same except for the name of the testator and individual funeral wishes - then Mirror Wills are the best option. They can still opt to leave everything to each other and then their children once the surviving partner/spouse dies.

While they may be identical, their legal documents must still be separate. Each person is named as the sole beneficiary on the first death and the same beneficiaries are included for the second death, meaning the wishes noted in the wills are not impacted by who dies first.

Key features

  • A pair of nearly identical Wills
  • Both have the same executors
  • The remaining partner/spouse named as the person who looks after dependants or children
  • The remaining partner/spouse is the primary beneficiary and the second death results in the estate being split between whoever else is specified in the Will


couple cycling

Living Wills

If you have concerns or fears about your mental health deteriorating - such as developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease - then creating a Living Will may put your mind at ease. This allows you to specify your wishes if you become unable to communicate your decisions or make them at all.

You can also make a decision about whether you’d want your life to be sustained, if you’d like to be resuscitated or if you’d like particular medical procedures carried out (eg blood transfusions). These wishes must then be respected by medical professionals, irrespective of protestations from family members.

Key features

  • Makes your wishes known in a life or death situation
  • It would only come into effect if you were physically unable to express your wishes or if you were no longer sound of mind

Is it easy to set up a Will?

These days, creating a Will can be done online in a few simple steps. You can also make your own Will using a kit purchased online or in some shops and you can also seek professional advice from a Will writing service - it’s completely up to you.

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