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Are Online Wills Valid?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

What is a Will?

A Will is an extremely important document which provides the opportunity for an individual to determine exactly how their estate (money, property, and possessions) should be shared out between loved ones following their death.

Sadly, more than two-thirds of people in the UK die without a Will. This means that the rules of intestacy will apply, which may not distribute the estate in the way the deceased would have wished.

Moreover, even some Wills which are produced may not be fully fit for purpose as they have not been drawn up with adequate legal oversight. Prime examples of this issue are the online Wills which have become increasingly common in recent years. Online Wills are legally valid in principle but, in practice, can result in numerous problems.

What are online Wills?

Online Wills typically provide a basic template for you to complete with details of how you would like your estate to be dispersed following your death. Some people may choose this option as it appears to be cheaper than having a professional Will drafted and also avoids the need to discuss personal details with a solicitor.

In the long run, however, online Wills may not be such an attractive option and could prove very costly in both financial and emotional terms.

What are the disadvantages of online Wills?

Lack of legal oversight

There is likely to be little if any provision for checking that an online Will is legally sound. While the level of service provided might be adequate for the most basic of estates, it may not be sufficient to deal with less straightforward cases (for example, where an individual has children from a previous relationship).

Even where an online Will seems sufficient for someone’s needs at the time it is drafted, their family and financial circumstances could subsequently change significantly (for example, they could have more children, or their house could increase in value and take their estate above the threshold for inheritance tax) meaning the will no longer meet their requirements.

This lack of expertise in the drafting of an online Will could result in the deceased’s estate not being distributed in the way they wished.

Financial issues

Larger estates may be potentially liable for large amounts of capital gains and inheritance tax. Online Wills offer no opportunity for the individual to receive expert advice on how to draft the document in a way that reduces such payments.

Risk of legal challenge

An online Will may not be as robust as one drawn up by a legal expert and this could encourage aggrieved parties (people who received no bequest or a smaller one than they were expecting) to challenge the Will in court. Such a scenario could prove extremely stressful for loved ones and significantly reduce the value of the estate.

Why use a professional Will writing service?

As shown above, therefore, online Wills may prove to be an expensive long-term option when one considers the disadvantages they can entail. Many people argue that the traditional route of engaging a solicitor to provide a professional Will writing service is a better option for a number of reasons:

Legal expertise

A solicitor will bring considerable training, knowledge, and expertise to the role. They will get to know you and your wishes for your estate and ensure that your will reflects these requirements. They can also future-proof your will so that it is more likely to still meet your needs should your circumstances change.

Solicitors at Wilson Browne also offer free Will health checks at regular intervals to consider if the document remains fit for purpose – and can help you draw up a new Will if necessary. We will also be happy to store your Will free of charge to provide you with added peace of mind.

Financial expertise

Getting the right financial advice can be crucial in determining how much of an estate will actually go to beneficiaries – for example, where there are large amounts of potential tax liabilities, or overseas investments subject to the laws of another country.

Wilson Browne works with a number of trusted local accountants where appropriate to ensure you receive the best possible advice and guidance over how to maximise the bequests your loved ones receive.

Deterring legal challenges

A Will that has been drawn up by a legal expert is likely to be sufficiently robust to withstand any legal challenge.

Not only will the terms of the will have been framed in clear, precise language, but a legal professional will have had the opportunity to confirm that the will genuinely reflects your wishes and that you were not coerced into making it.

The mere fact that a Will has been drawn up by a solicitor may deter people from mounting a challenge and so prevent your loved ones from suffering added emotional strain at a time when they are mourning your death.

Solicitors are also tightly regulated and so, in the unlikely event of there being any problems, you would find clear procedures in place to seek recompense.

How can I get my Will drawn up by a professional?

At Wilson Browne, we have vast experience of drawing up Wills for clients that meet their precise needs to ensure their loved ones benefit from their estate in the way they wish.

Writing a Will is a very sensitive subject for many people and so you can be sure that we will approach the task with tact, empathy, and professionalism.

We pride ourselves in taking the time to get to know our clients and gaining a true appreciation of their wishes so that we can offer the best possible guidance.

As well as our offices in Corby, Higham Ferrers & Rushden, Kettering, Leicester, Northampton, and Wellingborough, we are happy to make home visits for clients with mobility issues.

Please call 0800 088 6004 or fill in our online form to find out more about how we can help you.

Wilson Browne provides free will health checks to ensure that your will still matches your priorities. We help to make sure that your loved ones are provided for and your will is still relevant.
Kirsty Chettle

Posted:

Kirsty Chettle

Trainee Legal Executive

Kirsty is a member of the Private Client team based in our Higham Ferrers office and is currently working towards her CILEx exams. She assists the teams on a variety of matters including Wills, probate, trusts, inheritance tax, lasting powers of attorney and more.