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Writing a valid will: a checklist

Here is a checklist for writing a valid will. It includes items that you should organise and matters that you will want to bear in mind.

Earlier wills

  • Revoke earlier wills: ordinarily this is done by inserting a revocation clause in your new will.
  • Retrieve / destroy copies of earlier wills: this may be sensible to avoid any future confusion.


  • Make a basic inventory of your assets: to get an idea of what you have -- you may have more than you think!
  • Note down where your assets are located: investment accounts, insurance policies, bank accounts, title deeds -- these may be in a variety of locations.


  • Family members?
  • Friends / others?
  • Charities?
  • Legacies?
  • Specific items?
  • Residual?


  • Family / close friend(s).
  • Professionals: a mix of friends/family and professionals may be desirable.


  • For minor children.
  • For other vulnerable beneficiaries.
  • Major responsibility -- discuss in advance. This is of crucial importance. Someone who agrees to take on a guardianship is taking on a major practical, financial and emotional responsibility.
  • Financial provision for guardians -- life insurance proceeds, etc.


  • Any trusts to be established in will?
  • Beneficiaries.
  • Trustees (same as executors?).


  • Two witnesses (not beneficiaries under will).


  • Legal.
  • Tax.
  • Other (if necessary, appraiser, valuer, commercial property consultant, etc.).

Storage of will

  • Solicitor's firm: not required, but often a good practical solution.
  • Elsewhere.
  • Copies: sometimes it's sensible to give a copy to each executor, trustee and guardian.
  • Avoid confusion, avoid competing versions, keep track of copies and electronic versions.

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