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DIY Wills and Letters of Wishes with finance expert Jason Butler

Welcome to the sixth episode of Age Space Money, the podcast that gives you insight, ideas and perspectives on elderly care and finance.

This podcast is presented to you by Annabel James, Founder of Age Space, which is a one-stop online resource for anyone looking after, or caring for, an elderly parent; and Jason Butler, financial wellbeing expert and author of “Money Moments: Simple Steps to Financial Wellbeing”.

This podcast discusses the topic of making wills.

Show Notes

Please click on the links below to jump to different sections of this episode’s show notes:

Why are we so reluctant to write our own wills?

For many people, writing their own will means confronting their own mortality; it’s not just about dying, people also don’t like the idea of getting old!

You can now write a will in less than 20 minutes, for under £50.00, using an online creating will service – this is generally not appropriate for people with complex needs, multiple family issues or who have significant assets. However, if you die intestate, you have no say over who gets what, where from, and when.

What does intestate mean?

Intestate is where you die without having written a will. In this scenario, government legislation at the given time will determine how your assets are distributed after your death. If you have a spouse or siblings, there is new legislation that determines the order of which and how much each person will get. The point is that the government takes control of your assets, and this won’t necessarily reflect what you want to happen, or what’s right for the family.

What are the options when writing a will?

You can create a will online for £50-£100. For people whose affairs are simple and who do not have significant assets, this option is better than not having a will at all. ‘Which’ is an example of a consumer bonafide organisation that provides this service.

If you’ve re-married, have stepchildren, are estranged from relatives, or want to create trusts or keep assets out of reach of beneficiaries until they are old enough, you will want to consult a solicitor, or a properly qualified legal adviser, to create your will. A typical lawyer will charge around £300-400 for this service.

How do you encourage elderly parents to make sure they’ve written a will?

Reassure them that they can create a will that is completely flexible. It is also in their best interests.

They will need to identify who they want the executors and trustees to be, and any guardians if needed.

Your executors decide what to do with your assets when you die.

You can write a letter of wishes to sit alongside the will – this spells out your wishes and thoughts to the executors on what your approach would be to administering your assets, or how you would administer them if you were still alive.

Ask your lawyer whether you should write a letter of wishes to go alongside your will – you can update this letter as much as you like, without changing the will.

What do you need to think about when writing a will?

You have three types of assets:

  • Financial (e.g. money in the bank, investments, trusts etc);
  • Physical (e.g. car, instruments);
  • Digital (e.g. facebook account, photos).

Listing out your individual assets within each of these categories is very important.

Also, if you are supporting an older person, knowing what assets they have can help you to look out for their interests better.

We’ve put together a list of 7 important considerations when writing a will, which is a great place to start thinking about will writing.

Top tips:

  1. Make a list of all of your assets – financial, physical and digital.
  2. Choose your executors very carefully – these should be either people you know and trust, or a local law firm, as opposed to the bank.
  3. Make sure you execute your will properly with two independent witnesses.
  4. Make sure you tell the relevant people where the original will is!

If you’ve enjoyed this episode, and it’s been useful, please do rate and review us, so that more people can find us. You can listen and subscribe to the Age Space Podcast on iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts, by clicking on the ‘subscribe’ button.

You can find lots more information about some of the issues we’ve talked about, and all the things we do, at

Do join our forums or suggest ideas for topics to discuss at There are more editions of the Age Space Money podcast about funding care; equity release; lasting powers of attorney; inheritance; and getting yourself financially organised.

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