Download template (ODT)
I recently created a will under UK law and could not find a good template. I paid for legal advice to get it checked, but it’s so simple (two pages), others shouldn’t have to. And so I have created this LibreOffice document to share. I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.
The below is based on my best understanding — if you spot errors, leave a comment! Then we have a chance to fix it. If you add features to the template feel free to send me a copy so I might share with others.
- Legally valid wording, covering the bases under UK law, according to lawyers
- Uses document ‘fields’ to allow for easy identification and editing of key parts (double click a field to edit)
- Specifies one fallback recipient (“residuary”) in case the main one dies before you
- Automatic pagination (legal requirement)
- Includes space for signatures on every page (legal requirement)
- Standard, consistent formatting using default styles
- Lacks anything more fancy than the above features
- Only specifies one person to inherit everything, with no complex conditions
- No age limit on recipients (“residuaries”)
- Specifies two executors
I created the template using LibreOffice, which therefore works perfectly. I tested it in Google Docs and Office 365, which unfortunately both broke the formatting and nice template features. So you can use those apps if you just want the text, but you’ll save a little time if you use LibreOffice instead, which will highlight the fields to change, handle pagination, and per-page signatures, and not require you to tweak the layout.
That said, the core content of this document is less than two pages, so if you can’t or won’t install the Open Source LibreOffice app, then manual editing should be quick on the other apps, if you know what you’re doing.
How to make the will legally enforceable
- UK law is antiquated, so making the will enforcable, and keeping it that way, is burdensome
- Your two witnesses must be physically present, at the same time in the same room
- The witnesses must watch you sign in real time, and watch each other sign also
- You must all sign all pages
- The original paper document must be kept safely – copies are generally not legally acceptable
- You can pay for a service like the National Will Register to keep the paper original safely
- (Yes: I can’t believe that paper copies, and in-room signing, are required in the 21st century either)
- If you get married you probably need to make a new will, apparently
- If you don’t use something like the National Will Register, then you need to tell plenty of people where your original Will is (so they can find it if you die)
- If you’re an ex-pat like me, then local law in the country you reside in matters – e.g. Germany explicitly follows the law of the country-of-origin of aliens-within-Germany, apparently, hence my Will is under UK law, although I don’t live there
- If you have investments or crypto assets which your loved ones might struggle to get access to in the event of your death, you can save your estate a bunch of $$ and time by using DGLegacy – a company created by friends of mine to solve that problem.