Will writing services pros and cons

The need to use a will writing service depends on the complexity of your will. It can be cheaper than a solicitor and more reliable than a DIY will.

How will writing services work?

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Will writing services can work:

  • online
  • by post
  • face-to-face.

Other reputable organisations also provide will writing services – see below.

If you chose a face-to-face service, a will writer will usually make an appointment to come and see you at home.

They’ll talk to you about your family and personal circumstances, including:

  • Your assets (your money, property and possessions) and who you would like your executors to be. Executors are the people who will carry out the instructions in your will by collecting your assets, paying any debts/taxes and distributing them among the beneficiaries.
  • Who you would like to benefit under your will (‘beneficiary’) and how (in what proportions, including specific gifts, charitable legacies and so on) and give you advice on the best way to organise it.

When they understand what you want, they’ll draft your will for you.

With an online service, you visit a website to answer questions about your will. When you’ve finished, the service sends you a draft will by post or email for you and your witnesses to sign.

Some online services have a telephone helpline to help you with any questions, and some will let you speak to a specialist will writer before you start.

Should you use a will writing service?

A will writing service could be a good choice for you if:

  • you understand the basics of how wills work but want some extra advice to make sure your will is done properly
  • you want to pay less than a solicitor would charge
  • your will is going to be quite simple. For example, if you’re leaving everything to your immediate family and your estate doesn’t include anything like overseas investments or a company you own.

Will writing services – pros and cons

Pros
  • A will writing service is usually cheaper than a solicitor.

  • Online services let you work at your own pace.

  • Face-to-face will writers usually visit you at home when it’s convenient for you.

  • There’s a wide choice of companies offering this service.

Cons
  • Regulation isn’t the same as for solicitors, so you won’t have the same protection if something goes wrong.

  • Not many will writers are fully legally qualified – but if they’re a member of a recognised trade body, they have been trained in wills and estate planning.

  • They might not be able to store your will securely like a solicitor can.

Using a will writing service – before you start

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Members of these organisations must:

  • have training that’s regularly updated
  • be insured to cover legal costs if your will is challenged, and
  • follow a code of practice approved by the Trading Standards Institute.

If you use a will writing service from your bank, check for membership of one of these two organisations – writing wills is not covered by the same regulations as bank accounts or investments.

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Online will writers for creating a will

England and Wales

Farewill Suitable for a simple will only. You can write your will online in 30 minutes with professional support from Farewill.

Coop Legal Services in partnership with Cancer Research UK Suitable for a simple will only. Telephone and online will writing service. Get a call from their professional will writers to review your circumstances and answer any questions you have. It’s free if you only need a simple will but they have a paid-for service if your needs aren’t simple.

Which? Wills writing service You can buy a will document, complete it online in your own time and their wills specialists can check it for you. Available to those who live in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Other ways to write a will

If you’re over 60 or a stroke survivor living in England, Wales or Scotland

  • Do you have neighbours or local volunteers that could witness at a distance? For example, on the garden table with witnesses two metres away, they one by one come up and sign it with their own pen. Since 31 January 2020, it has been legal to witness a will remotely in England and Wales. This might include Zoom or FaceTime. The change is in response to the coronavirus pandemic – and the need for some people to shield. To find out more, including wording to use and how to make sure it’s legally valid, go to the GOV.UK website
  • Ask your solicitor if there is a way to witness the document electronically.
  • Ask the solicitor if they can amend the ‘attestation clause’ to cater for current circumstances.
  • Solicitors are required to do client ID checks/ face to face is not necessarily required – it can be done via email, telephone and virtual appointments. Ask which documents you might need to share to prove your ID so you can get this ready in advance.

If you’re 60 or over, or a stroke survivor of any age, you can make your will for free with the Stroke Association’s Free Will Scheme

They’ll put you in touch with a local solicitor. Ask if you can meet via telephone or video-conferencing to agree your needs and how the paperwork can be witnessed.

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Check whether it includes a will service. If so, get in touch with your insurance provider. Ask if you can meet via telephone or video-conferencing to agree your needs and how the paperwork can be witnessed.

Using a solicitor to write your will

Solicitors are the experts – they know their stuff but it’s the most expensive option, but it will give you most peace of mind, especially if your affairs are complex.

Consider a solicitor if:

  • your estate may have to pay Inheritance Tax (currently, you might have to pay if your estate’s value (including property) is more than £325,000)
  • you’ve got a complex family situation, such as former partners or estranged children, and you want to be sure that your estate can be divided as you wish
  • you want to protect someone’s interests after you’ve gone, such as a disabled family member
  • you want to talk through the options with an expert or you need some support you can trust.

Expect to pay:

  • a single will, drawn up by a solicitor might cost between £144 and £240
  • a joint will for couples might cost between £150 and £300
  • if your affairs are complex, such as involving trusts or overseas properties, it can cost between £500 to £600, according to Which?
  • make sure the cost you’re quoted includes additional costs such as VAT.
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Writing your own will

The cheapest – and perhaps riskiest way – to write a will is to do it yourself. You can buy templates online or at stationery shops.

This is only really a suitable option if your affairs are very simple. For example, if you’re married or in a civil partnership and have children, and you want to leave everything to the survivor of you on the first death, and your children in, say, equal shares on the second death.

The template should show what you need to do to make sure that it is signed, dated and witnessed properly, and that your old wills are revoked.

It’s important to follow these rules, otherwise there’s a risk your home-made won’t be valid.

The law about inheritances and how they’re taxed can be complex and things might change between when you write your will and when you die. That makes it risky to write your own will without any advice at all. But you can do it if you want to.

Expect to pay:

  • as little as £10 for a basic template.
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impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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