Living with Dying

Making a Will

There are many practical arrangements that can be made towards the end of life that can help people put their affairs in order. Some people find that as they approach death they want to make sure that there are no legal or financial burdens for the people closest to them.

If someone dies without making a will their property will be divided up under legal rules which do not take account of a person's circumstances. For example, when two people live together but are not married, unless there is a will, the surviving partner will not inherit anything, and the estate (including the house they had jointly lived in) would go to the dead partner's next of kin. 

This situation can cause enormous distress and possibly lengthy (and expensive) legal proceedings, at a time when people are already upset.

Ask the Citizens Advice Bureau for advice, or contact a solicitor. Age UK have a number of forms that can be downloaded (PDF) from their website.

You can find a solicitor by asking a friend for a recommendation or by contacting the Law Society. Get quotes from a few solicitors before deciding which is best for you. Sometimes they will make home visits

Macmillan Cancer Support has a guide to making a will and leaving a lifeline. It helps you prepare as much as possible before going to see a solicitor.

Make sure your spouse/partner/family know where important documents are kept, such as:
  • the deeds of the house 
  • the will 
  • passport 
  • driving licence 
  • birth, marriage and divorce certificates 
  • details of bank or building society accounts 
  • insurance premiums and pension policies 
  • car insurance 
  • tax and national insurance numbers.

You might also want to list the names and phone numbers of various people who would need to be told after the death - executors of the will, bank manager, employer, landlord, solicitor, accountant, and doctor.

Last reviewed August 2014.
Last updated August 2014.

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