What you should never put in a Will

What You Should Never Put in Your Will

Writing a will is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your loved ones and ensure your final wishes are carried out. However, there are certain things that you should never include in your will, as they can lead to confusion, disputes, or even legal challenges. In this article, we’ll explore what you should never put in your will in the UK, providing real-life examples and scenarios to help you avoid common mistakes. Or if you prefer watch our video below!

Conditional Gifts: A Recipe for Confusion

One of the things you should never put in your will in the UK is conditional gifts. These are gifts that are dependent on the beneficiary meeting certain conditions, such as getting married or reaching a specific age. While you may have good intentions, conditional gifts can create uncertainty and lead to disputes among your beneficiaries. For example, let’s say you leave £50,000 to your grandson on the condition that he gets married before the age of 30. If he doesn’t meet this condition, the gift fails, and the money may end up going to someone else or being tied up in legal battles so this definitely makes it on the list of things never to put in your Will

Gifts to Pets: A Legal No-No

Another thing you should never put in your will in the UK is gifts to pets. While you may love your furry friends, the law sees them as personal property, just like a car or a piece of furniture. This means you can’t leave money or assets directly to your pets in your will. Instead, you can leave your pets to a trusted friend or family member, along with a sum of money to cover their care. You can also set up a pet trust to ensure your pets are taken care of after you’re gone.


Sarah had a beloved cat named Whiskers. In her will, she left £10,000 to Whiskers to cover his care. However, when Sarah passed away, her family discovered that the gift to Whiskers was invalid. Instead, the money went back into Sarah’s estate and was distributed according to the terms of her will, she could have avoided this if she read this article on What you should never put in your Will!

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Jointly Owned Assets: A Common Mistake

If you own assets jointly with someone else, such as a house or a bank account, you should never include them in your will. That’s because jointly owned assets pass automatically to the surviving owner when one owner dies, regardless of what your will says. For example, if you and your spouse own your home as joint tenants, your share of the property will pass to your spouse when you die, even if your will says otherwise.

Business Assets: Seek Professional Advice

If you own a business or have a financial interest in one, you should never include business assets in your will without seeking professional advice first. The default position when you die depends on the structure of the business, not necessarily on the terms of your will. For example, if you’re a sole trader, your business assets will form part of your estate and can be distributed according to your will. However, if you’re a partner in a partnership or a shareholder in a limited company, your business assets may pass to the other partners or shareholders, depending on the terms of any partnership or shareholders’ agreement

What you should never put in your Will

Life Insurance and Pension Benefits: Not Part of Your Will

Another thing you should never put in your will in the UK is life insurance and pension benefits. That’s because these assets usually require you to nominate a beneficiary to receive the death benefits directly, rather than passing under the terms of your will. For example, if you have a life insurance policy and you nominate your spouse as the beneficiary, the death benefit will be paid directly to your spouse when you die, regardless of what your will says.


John had a life insurance policy worth £250,000. In his will, he left the policy to his children. However, when John passed away, his family discovered that he had nominated his ex-wife as the beneficiary of the policy. As a result, the death benefit was paid directly to John’s ex-wife, and his children received nothing from the policy

Funeral Arrangements: Best Left Out of Your Will

While it’s common to include funeral arrangements in your will, so while technically it’s not one of things you should never put in a will, it’s best to leave them out. That’s because funeral arrangements are not legally binding, and your executors have the final say in how your funeral is conducted. Instead, it’s best to discuss your funeral wishes with your loved ones and record them in a separate document, such as a letter of wishes. This way, your family can carry out your wishes without any legal complications.

Life insurance through business

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I leave my estate to a charity in my will?

Yes, you can leave your estate or a portion of it to a charity in your will. In fact, leaving money to a charity can reduce the amount of inheritance tax your estate has to pay.

What happens if I die without a will in the UK?

If you die without a will in the UK, your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy7. This means your assets will go to your closest relatives in a specific order, starting with your spouse or civil partner, then your children, parents, siblings, and so on.

Can I change my will after it’s been signed and witnessed?

No, you cannot change your will after it’s been signed and witnessed. If you want to make changes to your will, you’ll need to make a codicil (an official alteration) or create a new will altogether.

The Bottom Line

Writing a will is a crucial step in protecting your loved ones and ensuring your final wishes are carried out. However, it’s important to avoid common mistakes that can lead to confusion, disputes, or legal challenges. By understanding what you should never put in your will in the UK, you can create a clear, legally binding document that reflects your true intentions. If you’re unsure about what to include in your will or how to structure it, seek professional advice from a solicitor or will-writing service. They can help you navigate the complex legal requirements and ensure your will is valid and enforceable. Remember, your will is one of the most important documents you’ll ever write. Take the time to get it right, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing your loved ones will be taken care of after you’re gone.


The information provided in this article on what you should never put in your will is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute formal legal advice. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, laws and regulations may change over time. For your specific situation, it is always best to consult with a qualified professional who specialises in wills and estate planning. They can guide you through the process of properly drafting and executing your will, ensuring it is legally valid and tailored to your unique needs. Services like XWills.com offer expert will writing assistance from licensed professionals. Speaking with them directly will give you the personalised attention and formal legal guidance needed to achieve your estate planning goals and protect your legacy.

Andrew Walters - Xwills.com

Researched and Fact Checked by Andrew Walters

Co-Founder, CEO and Senior Will Writer at Xwills.com

Andrew Walters is the co-founder and CEO of Xwills.com, an estate planning firm that combines technology with personalised customer service to elevate the will writing experience. As a full member of the Society of Will Writers, Andrew is committed to upholding the highest professional standards in the field.

Driven by a passion for providing comprehensive support to clients, Andrew pursued formal qualifications in will writing and estate planning. This journey led to the establishment of Xwills, where he and his team fill a gap in the market by offering a tailored alternative to online-only will writing services.

At Xwills, Andrew ensures that each client receives the time and attention needed to understand their specific requirements. He strongly believes that something as important as writing a will should not be rushed or done without expert guidance.

As a member of the Society of Will Writers, Andrew adheres to their code of practise and continues to expand his knowledge through annual training. 

His expertise, combined with Xwills’ commitment to customer service, positions him as a trusted resource for those seeking to protect their legacy and provide for their loved ones.

With his dedication to professionalism and personalised service, Andrew Walters is setting a new standard in the estate planning industry.