There are a few ways to get a Will written but the cheap and simple methods could cost your family dear after your death.
- Do it yourself
- Do it online
- Get one from a Will writer or solicitor
Let’s look at the pros and cons of each method.
1. Do it yourself Wills
You’ve seen these before in your local Post Office or a brand of WH Smith. They are DIY Wills that come with a instructions and a form to fill in. Complete it and voila! It’s an easy way of getting a Will written.
Now the first thing to say is that this is perfectly legal. You don’t need to get a solicitor or a Will writer to write your Will. You can write your own Will and it could be perfectly valid. Indeed the late TV presenter Dale Winton did just that.
The advantage is, of course, that handwritten Wills (whether you write or type them, they are typically called “handwritten” are cheap. Typically, you can buy them for £20 or less. We’ve even seen a Will writing kit available for £2.50.
So what’s the problem? The first issue is that if you don’t do it correctly, it won’t work after your death and that could leave heaps of trouble for your family after your death.
All Wills need to be signed and witnessed correctly, otherwise they won’t be accepted by the Probate Registry. And there are other quirks that could invalidate particular gifts if the correct wording isn’t inserted. For example, gifts of money to an executor must be accompanied by special wording.
Do you think your £2.50 Will is going to have the correct wording? Do you want to take that chance?
The reality is that do-it-yourself Wills only cover simple scenarios. Dale Winton, for example, left specific amounts of money to three gifts to three friends and everything else to one person. Wills don’t get much simpler than that.
If you have children or any more complex family circumstances, we recommend giving do-it-yourself Wills a wide birth.
✔ Very cheap
✘ Only suitable for the simplest scenarios
✘ The wording could inadvertently create problems
✘ It may not be valid when the time comes
2. Online Wills
Getting a Will written online may seem perfectly fine on the face of it. After all, we do everything else online so why not get a Will that way?
Indeed, online Wills could work out fine for you. However, there is still the same chance of the Will ending up invalid as with a DIY kit. At the end of the process, you’ll receive your Will by email or post. If you don’t get it witnessed, or don’t get it witnessed properly, it will be invalid.
Similarly, problems could arise due to the way the Will is written. When you make an online Will, you fill out a form to answer a series of questions. Either a computer program produces a Will automatically from your answers, or else it’s done manually behind the scenes.
Either way, it is not bespoke. Nobody has taken the time to dig deep into your circumstances and craft a Will to suit your precise needs. Again, it might be fine for simple scenarios but might not be enough for any more complex needs.
A third problem is that this low-cost method of getting a Will written could be more expensive for your family later on. An online service might insert a particular solicitor as a professional executor or charge for professional storage. Either way, these additional charges add to the cost.
If an elderly person gets a Will written this way, it may be more likely to be challenged by other family members. After all, the person (or computer) that wrote their Will did not meet them and so did not verify their identity or even whether or not they had the required capacity.
✔ Low cost
✘ Invalid if not witnessed correctly
✘ Not bespoke
✘ Might be hidden charges
3. Wills from a Will writer or solicitor
This is the traditional way of getting a Will written and the best way of getting a Will written. Will writing is not a regulated profession, which means that solicitors aren’t the only professionals who can write Wills.
With Will writers and solicitors, you are dealing with a human being who takes time to find out about you, your family, and your requirements.
They’ll typically meet you face to face, sometimes in the comfort of your own home. That way, they can make sure they write a Will that works for you and often will supervise the witnessing themselves.
Sure this way of getting a Will written is more expensive than a DIY or an online Will. But where family is concerned, for many people the price is worth paying.
It may also not be as expensive as you think − check our price list by clicking here and scrolling down the page.
The Will they produce is bespoke, ensuring that if necessary they account for:
- Guardianship for children, including reserve guardians if you wish
- Overseas assets
- Business assets
- Funeral wishes
- A spouse’s right to live in a property
- Children from a previous relationship
And then there are inheritance tax considerations. Not all of this may be possible to do with a simple Will. The best Will may end up being more complex and include a Trust. But this may be a price worth paying to secure your family’s future.
In addition, a good Will writer or solicitor should never force you to use a professional executor (which could cost your family more in the long run) or pay for other extras.
Some extras, like professional Will storage, are a great idea but it should always be your choice and not something that’s done without your knowledge.
✔ Fully bespoke
✔ Accounts for all circumstances
✔ Extras are optional in most cases
✘ More expensive
To discuss your options with a Will writer, click the button below.