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Is an online Wills service right for you?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Does making a Will online really protect the interests of you and your family?

…or are you putting your estate at risk of ending up in the wrong hands?

Making a Will is one of those things that many people put off doing, one of the main reasons being cost or perceived cost. Not everyone wants to pay a Solicitor to make a Will, perhaps because they believe it’s expensive.

The issue (such as it is) is that Will writing services aren’t regulated in the same way that a Solicitor is. Can you therefore be sure your wishes are carried out exactly as you wanted them?

What are online Will makers?

Online Will makers are companies who draft Wills for people using digital tools and usually operate by post.

You will usually have to input your details into their online questionnaire and then this in turn creates your Will.

But what if you need a more complex Will, for example a Will incorporating a Trust?

These online Wills will often only create a very standard document meaning your estate will not necessarily pass to your family in a way which is best suited to you.

For instance:

  • will the Will be prepared in a way which is tax efficient?
  • in case of second marriages, will the Will protect the children from each first marriage?

These are all matters which need to be discussed properly so that the correct legal advice can be given.

Can there ever be a best one?

Although there does seem to be a wide range of online Will companies available, how can you really distinguish a good one from a bad one? The people behind the screens could well be professionals, but that doesn’t mean it carries the  same protection you would get at a regulated firm of Solicitors.

Solicitors firms are regulated by the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA), so you can be confident they have the necessary legal expertise and insurance in place.

Many online Will writing services are not regulated (or required to hold the same level of indemnity insurance) and this could be problematic if something should go wrong in the future.

What are the pitfalls?

Many online Will companies will send Wills out to people for them to print off at home and sign, but there are many requirements which have to be followed in order for a Will to be legally valid.

For example, a will could be deemed invalid because of a minor mistake or because it was not signed in the correct order. Additionally, it is important to remember that you must also fully understand the law when it comes to making a Will!

If someone decides to contest your Will, they will be able to do this based on a variety of reasons, for instance, they could argue:-
• That you lacked testamentary capacity
• That you lacked knowledge and approval
• That you were being unduly influenced
• That it is a fraudulent or forged Will
• That there was Lack of valid execution of the Will
• The way in which the Will should be construed

If your Will is deemed invalid, then your estate will pass by the ‘Rules of Intestacy’ which means that your estate may no longer pass in accordance with your wishes.

If a Solicitor drafts your Will and is present at the execution of the Will, and has comprehensive notes about your meeting, this will hold a lot of weight in Court and could be the safeguard you need to make sure your wishes are adhered to.

Another issue is that quite often, the online Will making companies seem to come and go. If they are holding on to your original signed Will, there may be no way of getting it back. Not only have you then lost the money that you spent, but you are also no longer protected by a Will.

The most concerning thing at this point is that you may no longer be in a position to make another Will or you may have already passed away. In this instance, you will be deemed to have passed away without a Will and again your estate will pass by the Rules of Intestacy – meaning people you may not want to, inherit from your estate!

Perhaps the question to ask is: “How much does it cost to have a solicitor write a Will versus how much could it cost an estate if an online will gets contested?”

At Wilson Browne, individuals wishing to make a simple, straightforward Will, can expect the costs to start from £245.00 plus VAT.  The cost of a Will depends on the circumstances of the individuals and we will always advise you accordingly, based on the information given at our initial meeting.

You should be able to make a Will and give yourselves peace of mind in knowing that not only have you done what you can to help offset any contesting of the Will in the future, but also that you have a legally valid Will which will pass the Probate Registry requirements for validity.

Going for a cheap online Will may not look so attractive if you leave your family in financial and emotional disarray, and your legacy eaten away by legal bills or unnecessary tax.

 

Marta Crumbie

Posted:

Marta Crumbie

Solicitor

Marta qualified as a Solicitor in September 2020 and works within the Private Client team at our office in Kettering. She has over four years experience advising clients on Wills including Trust Wills, Lasting Power of Attorney and more recently dealing with probate and estate…