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A simple guide to wills

21st January 2023

Have you made a will?

Thirty million adults in the UK haven’t written a will, which can lead to unnecessary delays, loved ones missing out on what you might have wanted to leave them and in some cases potentially upsetting disputes at a challenging time.

At TSB, we understand that life is busy, and that writing a will is something that people keep putting off, so we’ve teamed up with Farewill to make it easier for our customers to take control of what happens when they die. Farewill’s specialist team is rated 4.9/5 on Trustpilot from over 12,000 reviews and has won ‘National Will Writing Firm of the Year’ at the British Wills & Probate Awards for four years running.

This simple guide explains what you need to know about making a will and answers some key questions. However, if you are in any doubt and especially if you have a large or complex estate you should always seek independent legal advice before making a will.

What is a will?

A will is a legal document that states what you want to happen to everything you own when you die (subject to any prior rights e.g. of children or creditors).

That includes significant assets such as your home, a car, jewellery, or money in the bank, but you can also determine how personal possessions that may have sentimental value are shared out and make sure your digital assets such as social media and online payment accounts are appropriately dealt with.

You may also want to donate money to charity or make your wishes known about how you’d like to be celebrated at your funeral in your will.

A will can also let you plan how your children will be looked after if you die before they reach adulthood or even who is to care for your pets.

When should I make a will?

Often big life events like getting married, buying a house, starting a family, receiving inheritance or splitting with a partner can prompt us to make a will.  Yet life is uncertain, so it’s really important for all adults to make a will because if you die without one your estate will be divided up in accordance with the rules of intestacy, a set of  rules which determine how and to whom your assets are distributed.

But these rules are very old, so don’t always cover modern family dynamics like unmarried couples, stepchildren, or your personal preference. If you’ve got children under 18, and have not appointed a legal guardian, social services and/or the courts can decide who takes care of them, and they might pick someone who wouldn't have been your preferred choice.

When should I review my will?

Once you have made a will, you should check it every 1-2 years to ensure that it is up to date with any changes to your personal circumstances.  In England, Wales and Northern Ireland should you marry, this will revoke any existing will unless the will expressly records that it was made with reference to the marriage. This is not the case in Scotland, but you may want to review your will in these circumstances, to ensure it still reflects your wishes.

Divorce and/or the ending of a civil partnership doesn’t invalidate an earlier will; however, the effect that this will have on your will varies depending on the terms of the will and the jurisdiction of the UK in which you are based so it is very worthwhile reviewing your will at this point.

It is also worth reviewing your will and/or your wishes on death generally when a relationship breaks down as until a divorce and/or the ending of a civil partnership has been finalised, the terms of any will and/or the intestacy rules could still apply to benefit your estranged spouse or partner, which may or not be what you would want.

You will also want to think about how best to provide for any children from the relationship and include this in your will.

How do I make a will?

Many people assume they need to see a solicitor to write a will. But if your requirements are relatively straightforward, you could end up paying more than you need to.

Although you can write your own will on a piece of paper, it’s easy to make mistakes without will writing guidance.  In your will you’ll need to choose executors (the people responsible for following the instructions set out in your will), and it is good practice to make an inventory of your estate and appoint legal guardians if you have children under 18 in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland or under 16 in Scotland. If you’re a pet owner you might want to make special arrangements to make sure your pets are looked after how you would wish.

Citizens Advice says you should only draw up your own will yourself without legal guidance if it is extremely straightforward, as without guidance or having your will checked your wishes could be misinterpreted after you have died.

Where can I get advice on making a will?

You may need to make a will with a solicitor if you require specific tax advice and/or require advice on a complex personal situation or estate. There are also online will writing services, which help you write a will, and take care of legal practicalities and checks.

What happens once I’ve made a will?

For a will to be valid in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland it needs to be:

  • in writing (this can be handwritten or typed) and signed by the person making the will, the ‘testator’ (or by some other person who they have asked to be present and to sign on their behalf), 
  • the signature is made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time, both witnesses need to sign the will in the testator's presence (the witnesses don't necessarily have to be in each other's presence when they sign their names),
  • all parties need to sign the will using a wet (with a pen) signature.  It is not possible to sign a will using digital or electronic means.

To be a witness you need to be 18 years or over.

The position is the same for Scotland except:

  • you only need one witness who can be 16 years or over, and
  • the witness can be named as an executor or beneficiary under the will.

You should keep your will somewhere safe, where your executor will be able to access it after you die. You can also add your will to the National Will Register.

How much does a will cost?

You can write your own will for free, but you should only consider this if your will is exceptionally straightforward. A solicitor’s costs will vary depending on the company and the complexity of your will.

  • We have teamed up with Farewill, the UK’s favourite will writing service, to give TSB customers the opportunity to write their will online or over the phone with one of their experts at a special discounted price. More details and prices can be found on TSB Marketplace | Farewill | TSB Bank
  • Farewill’s online will writing service allows you to appoint guardians for your children, choose your executors, make an inventory of your assets and set out how you want to divide up your estate. It also gives you the option of leaving gifts, personal messages and funeral wishes for your loved ones.
  • You can write your will online or over the phone for just £80, or £125 as a couple – under half the average market cost in the UK and taking as little as 15 minutes to complete online.
  • After you’ve written the will and paid for it, Farewill’s team will check it carefully, this is to make sure your wishes are clear and easy to understand and help reduce the chance of your will being contested after you die. 

Additional Information

TSB acts as an introducer for the online and telephone wills and probate services provided by Farewill. TSB and Farewill operate a revenue share every time someone pays to use Farewill’s will or probate services.

Farewill provide will writing guidance – they do not provide legal advice or check you’ve executed your will correctly. For legal advice, you will need to speak with a solicitor. Also, if you have a large estate or require tax advice, you may wish to consider whether this service is suitable for you or contact a lawyer first. Services are provided by Farewill and not TSB. As Farewill are not a financial services organisation, they are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. This means they are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) or the Financial Ombudsman Scheme (FOS).

Farewill are unable to provide a telephone or online service to the following groups:

  • People who don’t have the understanding or ability to make a will.
  • People permanently living outside the UK.
  • People who are significantly visually impaired, blind or unable to read or write.

Farewill are unable to offer an online service in Scotland and Northern Ireland but can offer a telephone service in these regions.

Terms and conditions

The discount is available to TSB customers who are eligible to use Farewill’s online or telephone will service and purchase a new will. No discount is offered on the £10 a year updates add-on service. To get the discount for single and couple wills online, the code will be shown after clicking the link in the ‘Getting Started’ section of this TSB web page. Please check your code has been added before checking out online. For telephone wills, quote “TSB” when requesting a call-back or talking to Farewill.

This offer is available until further notice and can be used whilst the arrangement between Farewill and TSB is in place. There is currently no end date for this offer - however, you can check by coming back to this page.

This service is provided by Farewill Ltd (company no: 09701947). You can read Farewill’s full terms and conditions here.

Important terms explained


The name given to the person writing a will in England Wales and Northern Ireland.


The name given to the person writing a will in Scotland.


The person you appoint in your will to make sure your wishes are carried out. This can be a relative, friend, or professional such as a solicitor or accountant.


A person aged 18 or over in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who sees you sign your will, and then signs it themself. You need two witnesses, who should be independent (i.e not a named beneficiary or their spouse/civil partner).

In Scotland, you need just one witness (who could be 16 or over and can benefit from the will  It is also not necessary for the witness to see the granter sign the will as long as the granter acknowledges their signature to the witness).


If you die without making a will, you are intestate, and your assets are shared out according to the rules of intestacy, rather than in line with any special wishes you may have.


An executor goes through the application process of Probate to deal with someone’s  estate. (In Scotland the equivalent is called Confirmation. This service is not currently provided by Farewill in Scotland)


All your assets, including money and property.