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Will Writing Services: Pros and Cons

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Why do I need a Will?

Making a Will gives you the peace of mind of knowing that your wishes will be respected after your death. In addition to facilitating the distribution of your money, property and possessions, Wills can be used to provide details of your funeral arrangements and the guardianship of children.

You will also be helping your loved ones avoid the anxiety that can result from someone passing away without a Will, leaving uncertainty about what their intentions were.

Whilst it is important to make a Will (and sadly more than two-thirds of people in the UK do not), it is also vital that it is drawn up properly to avoid the risk of it being contested – something likely to be extremely stressful for your beneficiaries.

There are several key points to consider when deciding whether to seek help from a Will writing solicitor or Will writing service.

  • Validity
  • Cost
  • Convenience
  • Lack of worry and anxiety

Will writing solicitor or Will writing service?

While many people still choose the traditional route of asking a Will writing solicitor to draw up the document, some have turned to an alternative option.

Will writing services are provided by many individuals and businesses; those providing this assistance can differ widely in level of expertise, quality of service and the fees they charge.

Given the importance of having a Will that’s fit for purpose, it’s vital that you have as much information as possible about your options so that you can make the choice that’s right for you.

What are Will writing services?

When you meet a Will writer they will ask you about your assets. These include:

  • Finances (e.g. money in a bank account, stocks and shares)
  • Possessions (e.g. house, car, jewellery)

You will also be asked about your choice of executor(s) – the individual(s) who will be responsible for the practicalities of implementing your decisions.

Their role will include:

  • Gathering together all your assets
  • Paying any liabilities (e.g. inheritance tax, credit card debts)
  • Distributing the remaining assets according to the instructions in your Will

The Will writer will then ask you how you want your assets to be distributed – you may wish to include both individuals and organisations (e.g. charities) in your Will.

Once the Will writer has the full picture of your assets and how you wish to bequeath them, they will draw up a draft of the Will for you to review.

Will there be a Will writing service near me?

Many Will writing services will arrange an appointment at your home to discuss your Will.

There is also the option of using an online Will writing service; you will visit a website and fill in a questionnaire covering the same areas as at a personal meeting.

The online service may operate in conjunction with a telephone option, where clients can call a helpline should they need additional assistance.

The pros of Will writing services

Cost

It is usually cheaper to use a Will writing service than a solicitor. You may also be offered a fixed fee so you know exactly what the cost is going to be before you agree to go ahead.

Convenience

As shown above, the service may be provided in your home at a time that suits you, online or by phone – this may be particularly beneficial for people with mobility issues.

In addition, some people may find it less stressful to fill in an online form than discuss personal information in person. Using a website also allows you to pause if you need a break or to find additional information without the worry that this will increase the cost.

Choice

There are many providers offering this service, giving you the chance to do your research and choose the one with whom you feel most comfortable.

The cons of Will writing services

Level of expertise

It is unlikely that your Will writer will be a qualified solicitor, meaning they will not have received the same level of training or have had that training updated as regularly.

The higher fee you may pay a Will writing solicitor reflects the years they have spent building up the skills they will use on your behalf.

There are a number of scenarios in which you may need specialist advice over your Will. These include:

  • Unmarried couples: there is no provision under intestacy rules for couples who are living together outside of marriage.
  • Tax liabilities: rising property prices mean that more and more people are crossing the threshold of £325,000 and becoming liable for inheritance tax. Likewise, many people may be unaware that items within their estate are liable for capital gains tax. Taking expert legal advice can greatly reduce (or even eliminate) the amount payable in both cases, thus significantly increasing the value of the estate. While Will writing services may appear cheaper, the lack of expert advice provided could prove very costly in the long run.
  • Children from previous relationships: it is highly recommended that you take specialist advice to ensure that they inherit from your estate.
  • Disabled beneficiaries: a solicitor would be able to ensure that your Will takes account of any provisions a beneficiary with disabilities requires.
  • Minor children: it is important to ensure that their interests are protected and that trustworthy and reliable people are appointed to act as guardians.
  • Family disputes: if there is ill feeling and suspicion between members of your family it is especially important that your will is unambiguous and robust to reduce the risk of it being challenged in court.
  • The need to future-proof a Will: many people live for a long period of time after drawing up a Will. While Wills can be amended or redrawn to reflect changing circumstances, it is preferable for the original Will to be drawn up in such a way as to take into account the possibility of change. This is something that would require the expertise of a Will writing solicitor who can advise on issues including care home costs, living Wills and power of attorney.
  • Issues affecting beneficiaries: should any of the individuals you intend to benefit from your Will be experiencing financial problems (including bankruptcy), mental illness or be likely to die before you, expert legal guidance can help to ensure they receive as much of their inheritance as possible.
  • Foreign assets: these can be complex issues requiring specialist advice to ensure that the Will protects the interests of beneficiaries.

Risk of legal challenge

Following on from the above points, one of the biggest potential disadvantages of using a Will writing service is that, especially in complex cases, it can increase the chances of a Will being contested in court. As well as the anxiety this can cause to beneficiaries, it can also significantly reduce the value of an estate.

Ways in which a Will writing service could increase the risk of a legal challenge include:

  • Errors: a simple mistake in the drafting of a Will can potentially render it invalid. As the providers of Will writing services generally lack the level of expertise of a solicitor, the chances of an oversight occurring are increased.
  • Assessing mental capacity: one way in which a Will may be legally contested is over the mental capacity of the individual concerned. The use of a Will writing service may make such a challenge more likely as it means there is no legally qualified person involved in the process who can verify the person’s capacity.
  • Risk of coercion: Anyone contesting the Will may find it easier to argue that someone was pressured into making the Will if the process was not overseen by a solicitor.
  • Ambiguities: Anything in the Will which is not clear and unambiguous can create the potential for a legal challenge.
  • Motivation: The simple fact that a Will that has been drawn up by a Will writing service rather than a solicitor may encourage people to contest it. Even if the challenge is unsuccessful, the experience may prove costly to the beneficiaries in terms of stress and the value of the estate.

Regulation

Anyone using a solicitor to draw up their Will has the peace of mind that they are tightly regulated and follow a rigorous code of practice. In the unlikely event of any problems occurring the individual will have a clearly defined procedure to follow in seeking compensation.

Will writers are not so heavily regulated and the degree of protection offered may vary greatly between different providers. As shown above, using a Will writing service may increase the chances of an error being made.

The relative lack of regulation may also make it more difficult for the individuals affected to obtain recompense.

Service

Will writing services may not offer the same comprehensive service (including free will health checks and storage) that many Will writing solicitors provide as part of their fee. Once again we can see how a Will writing service may not be such a cheap option in the long run.

 

Online DIY wills

Many providers offer template Wills on the internet.

These are often available free or at very low cost which can make them seem an attractive option.

As has been shown with Will writing services, however, a lack of expertise and regulation can lead to problems. There is the potential for these issues to be far greater in the case of DIY Wills given that there may be no checking process in place to ensure that the will has been drawn up appropriately.

Will writing solicitors

Many people find that the best option is to have a Will writing solicitor draw up their Will.

Wilson Browne, for example, brings the assurance of expert advice and the highest levels of service at an affordable price to ensure your Will is legal, clear, and adaptable to changing circumstances in the years before your death.

The benefits of using a Will writing solicitor to draw up your Will include:

  • Expertise: As qualified solicitors our team at Wilson Browne can draw up a Will that is legally robust, reducing the chances of it being challenged in court.
    Integrity: We are heavily regulated and follow a code of practice to provide a guarantee of our reliability.
  • Tax efficiency: Wilson Browne’s team of experts can ensure that your Will is structured in the most tax efficient way, maximising the share of your estate that will be inherited by your loved ones.
  • Adaptability: Wilson Browne is adept at working with you to ensure that your Will reflects your present intentions. Our quality service includes free Will health checks to determine whether your Will needs changing in the light of events such as marriages and children. Similarly, we can identify whether new tax legislation makes it advisable for you to amend your Will to reduce liabilities.
  • Free Will storage: Unlike some Will writing services, we will be happy to store your Will free of charge to provide added peace of mind.
  • Free registration on Certainty, the national Wills database.
  • We are fully qualified to make Sharia Law compliant for a Will under English law to ensure that the wishes of our Muslim clients are respected.
  • Affordability: The cost of drawing up a Will starts at just £295 (plus VAT).

Is there a Will writing solicitor near me?

When it comes to having their Will drawn up, many people prefer face-to-face-meetings.

With our offices in Northampton, Kettering, Corby, Higham Ferrers, Wellingborough and Leicester you can be assured of the highest level of bespoke will writing service and expertise over the drawing up of such an important document.

As an expert Will writing solicitor Wilson Browne can bring peace of mind for you and your loved ones.  Please get in touch to find out how we can help you.

Call 0800 088 6004 or fill in our online form.

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.