Wills for UK Residents

Find out about the various types of wills available in the UK and how to go about making one…

The UK rules relating to division of inheritance on death are mainly based on case law.

There are no statutory obligations to provide assets to the children of the testator (the person for whom the will is prepared) or the surviving spouse.

A UK will could be drafted in such a way that it applies to assets based in the UK and worldwide, although it may not be accepted in some jurisdictions due to incompatibility of terms or form.

Who Should Make a Will

A UK domiciled individual who dies without a will, will be subject to UK intestacy rules. These rules dictate the way the estate of the deceased will devolve. The current rules provide that a statutory legacy of £250,000 and a life interest in half of the residue will be gifted to the surviving spouse for their life with the remainder going to the children of the deceased.

In order to be able to direct assets in the estate in accordance to a person's wishes a will should be drafted to deal with the division of assets on death.

It should also be noted that according to UK law, the marriage of the testator will invalidate an existing will, unless it was specifically drafted in anticipation of the marriage. Similarly, a divorce may also invalidate gifts made to the divorced spouse.

Non UK domiciled individuals should look to draft wills to deal with the distributions of assets they hold in the UK. Otherwise, their UK estate may devolve according to the rules of the country in which they are domiciled.

The Process of Making a Will

A UK will requires minimal formalities and could be drafted with the assistance of a lawyer or a will writer.

Once drafted, a will must be dated and signed by the testator in the presence of two independent witnesses. Once signed there are no formal requirements for the will to be registered or stored.

Inheritance tax planning and the writing of wills is a complex area and professional advice should always be sought before taking any action.

Prepared by Hed Amitai, Solicitor, Private Wealth Structuring Group Head, PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal LLP 1 Embankment Place, London WC2N 6DX | Tel: 020 7212 3324 | e-mail