Am I too young to write a Last Will and Testament?

Am I too Young to Write a Last Will and Testament? 

Over 60% of adults don’t have a Will, and this is across all of the countries that we support; the US, UK and Canada. For Expats, this number is almost certainly going to be higher, because the process is that much more complicated.

This means one out of two adults are woefully underprepared for their own death! On a daily basis not many of us like to think about our inevitable demise, it’s morbid and something that most of us don’t want to think about. Like going to the dentist or sitting an exam, there are some uncomfortable scenarios that we put off for as long as possible. Writing a Last Will and Testament should not be one of them.

However, there comes a time when we need to face the cold hard reality that we won’t live forever and you need to write a last will and testament. Granted, writing a Last Will and Testament isn’t the most fun you can have, and when you’re young there are a million and one exciting things you would rather do but it’s really not such a long and laborious process as you might think. To help you see the benefits of having a Will we have outlined the reasons why you’re (almost) never too young to write one.

The Young Ones

In 2014 Rik Mayall, a star from the popular ‘The Young Ones’ TV series passed away unexpectedly without leaving a Will. This resulted in extra fees and expenses for his surviving family, never mind the added turmoil of not knowing how he would have liked his estate to be shared.

But this happens all the time. If you took just musicians, you could form a supergroup of Prince, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, Billy Holliday, Bob Marley, Barry White…..the list goes on.


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Confused about Wills? Unusual expressions demystified.

Although estate planning can be easy and intuitive, the legal jargon surrounding Wills can make it confusing for those who aren’t familiar with the process. Although many aspects of estate planning are actually relatively simple, the unfamiliar language that people associate with the law can make these aspects seem daunting, even unintelligible. The awkward words used in Wills may be intimidating, but you shouldn’t let a few unusual terms turn you away from preparing your own Will.


One of the philosophies that governs is the idea that the law should be accessible, and that jargon terms shouldn’t prevent anyone from understanding their Wills. You shouldn’t be required to spend significant sums of money on legal advice just to understand your own Will. This glossary presents some of the most common terms that surround estate planning law, terms that will be useful as you write your Last Will and Testament. If there are others you would like to see, please add them in the comments.

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Who can be a beneficiary when you write your own Will

You have finally decided that it’s time to write your own Will. There are key appointments to be made, like the naming of an Executor, or maybe guardians for your children. But the  main body of your Will is going to explain how you wish to distribute your estate (everything you own). This could be made up of a series of “bequests” to a number of “beneficiaries”. The selection of beneficiaries becomes a little more complicated for Expats, and we frequently receive questions related to who or what can be a beneficiary in the Will.

A quick word on Bequests

There are three types of bequest that can be included in a Will. Continue reading

US Last Will and Testament: Write it from anywhere.

The US diaspora reaches every corner of the World. There are sizeable US contingents in Mexico, the Philippines, Israel and Liberia, but this is just a start. Millions of US citizens are finding new lives in Europe, Asia and Africa there are millions of US citizens with statistical estimates of anywhere from three to six million Americans living abroad. The following map is provided by

US Last Will and Testament

A good proportion of these US citizens still hold assets back in their home country, and where you hold assets, you need a Will. So what are the steps involved in preparing your US Last Will and Testament, when you are living in a foreign country? What options are available to you? and how important is it to have a Will in place anyway?

Which approaches are available for preparing a US Last Will and Testament while living abroad?

There are fundamentally four methods of preparing a US Last Will and Testament while living overseas. Continue reading

How to write a Will: Here are your four options

Expats face some unique challenges when trying to write a Will. If they still hold assets in their home country, they need to create a Will separately to cover those assets, but the logistical challenge of say, creating a UK Will, while living in Thailand, is often insurmountable. We know that 65 percent of adults do not prepare a Will when there are no geographic challenges, so we can only guess that the number of expats without a Will would be even higher.

Write a Will

For expats there are four options for preparing a Will to cover assets held in multiple countries.

1. Write a Will starting with a blank piece of paper.

This is without a doubt the worst option. People often get muddled because they hear that if you write a Will on the back of a napkin, it is technically a legal document. Although this is correct, it will be an extremely poorly written Last Will and Testament, and the instructions may not be usable. At best there will be confusion as to what you were trying to say, at worst, the whole document will be rejected as inadequate.

Just to gain some perspective on this approach. Not even a highly trained legal professional would attempt to write a Will starting with a blank piece of paper. They use software to incorporate established legal precedents and cut and paste these known paragraphs to compile your Will. There is actually no chance of a layperson being able to write a Will of quality with no reference materials.

A well drafted Will would usually be about five or six pages, and include over twenty clauses, many of which provide instructions on the scope and powers given to the trustee of the estate. These are very important clauses which would almost certainly be missing if you decide to write a Will starting with a blank sheet of paper.

You may hear of the term “holographic Will” which means that the document is written entirely by hand. In some States, Provinces and countries these documents are accepted as legal Wills, but the law is there to support a situation where a person is dying in extreme circumstances and need to quickly write a Will. There are also special laws for active military personnel. Just because these laws exist, they should not be used as a recommended approach to preparing your own estate planning documents.

2. Write a Will using a blank form Will kit

This is one step up from starting with a blank piece of paper. The form will likely provide you with some basic headings and will usually come with a guidebook explaining how to complete each section. We have written extensively across all of our blogs detailing the dangers of these blank form kits. They will not be able to check for errors, will leave too much blank space for you to complete, and will likely not guide you through contingency plans. There have been several well documented cases of people using these blank form kits to write a Will and making a complete mess of things.

You have no assurance that if you write a Will using a blank form kit that the kit has been kept up-to-date to reflect current laws. It will almost certainly not be specific to the jurisdiction (the laws of British Columbia are different to Ontario, and Texas compared to California).

Furthermore, as an expat you are faced with a particular challenge. You would need to find a kit that complies with the legal requirements of the jurisdiction in which you are holding assets, in other words, you may have to purchase a Canadian Will kit while living in Australia. This is of course possible now in the days of online shopping, but you will not be able to purchase a Will that works together with a Will written for your new home. In fact, a standard Will kit probably revokes (cancels) a Will that you have written for your new country of residence. You would need a kit that deals exclusively with assets held in one jurisdiction and not concern itself with assets held in another jurisdiction. To our knowledge, this type of kit does not exist.

3. Write a Will through a lawyer or solicitor

This is one way to ensure that your Will is probably going to be written correctly, but it is a logistical challenge. If you are in Hong Kong and need a Will to cover your UK assets, you will need to write a Will through a solicitor who is familiar with UK law, and licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction. Invariably, this means travelling to the UK to prepare the Will. Likewise, if you are a US expat living in Dubai, and you wish to write a Will through an estate planning lawyer, you will need to travel back to the US to consult with the lawyer, and have the paperwork signed.

You may be able to have the lawyer write a Will on your behalf based on a phone consultation, but there are still signing requirements to be dealt with, and a facsimile or digital version of a Will is not a legally admissible document. It must be an original, signed document to be accepted by the courts.

This approach would likely end up costing thousands of dollars in legal fees and travel. Clearly, it can be combined with a trip back to your home country, but if you are not planning a trip, then making the journey in order to prepare a Will is improbable.

4. Write a Will using an online Will service

Fortunately, there now exists a convenient and affordable solution to this dilemma. The option to write a Will under the laws of Canada, the US or UK, while sitting in Thailand, India or Dubai. Furthermore, the solution provides you with a Will that deals exclusively with the assets held in that jurisdiction, and is written to work together with any Will written for your new home. The final document would look identical to a Will created by a lawyer in the US or Canada, or a solicitor in the UK (we use the same software that they use, we just give you direct access to it).

To write a Will using our service you would simply go to and click on “start your Will”. You firstly identify where your assets are located, and where you are living, this directs the service to prepare the correct Will under the laws of your chosen jurisdiction.

You then step through the process of preparing your Will by answering a series of questions about your family situation, and how you would like your UK, Canadian or US assets to be distributed. You would also choose an Executor to administer the estate in that country at the appropriate time.

Answering the questions takes about 20 minutes, and the service costs $34.95 or £24.95. Once you have completed answering the questions, you download and print your document. Sign it in the presence of two witnesses, and you are done, you have managed to write a Will to cover your assets while living abroad.