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£6.99 Cheap Wills – but what is the fallout?

30 Sep 2019

When it comes to Wills it is hard to know where to start. Do you need a Solicitor, a Will writer or can you use a DIY or online Will pack?

What is a cheap Will?

Becoming more common are online Will writers that offer a template for you to fill out yourself and submit to a Will writing company.  DIY Will packs can be picked up cheaply and easily in stationary shops and online.  This is where you write the Will yourself without anyone else checking it.

Some banks offer a Will writing service which be appealing. However, make sure you check that you can choose your own executor as some banks charge a lot for this.

The price of these online and DIY packs varies from £6.99 to £185 depending on what you require so they seem good value.  After all a Will is a Will isn’t it?  However; there are several pitfalls you must be aware of with online Will writers or DIY Wills.

What are the risks of cheap Wills?

You can get an online Will for just £6.99.  That’s worth doing isn’t it? What can go wrong?

Unfortunately, many of the online Will writer companies have several hidden costs, not just financial ones.  Although it seems a good deal, unfortunately it may end up causing most of the problems you were hoping to avoid by getting a Will in the first place.

  1. There is a potential for inaccuracies. Do not assume that the online Will writing company would take any responsibility for this as it is you that provides the details.  Spelling really does matter.  It adds accuracy and saves misunderstanding.  A Will needs to be executed correctly to be valid and if the validity is called into question, then it may mean that your wishes are not followed.

The benefit of using a solicitor is that with a draft Will the client can double check that we have spelt the names and addresses correctly and would have the opportunity to check again when they come in to sign their Wills.

  1. Another pitfall of online or DIY Wills is they may not include important details. For example, the age you would like your children to receive their inheritance or details of those you would like to benefit in the event your primary beneficiary dies before you.  If a Will is not clear, this may result in the document being contested, or the intention behind the Will being misunderstood and your inheritance distributed incorrectly.

An experienced solicitor can help avoid ambiguity to reduce such a risk.

  1. Tax implications would not be included in a Will, but an incorrectly drafted Will may cause tax implications.  Those implications could mean that more tax must be paid (reducing the amount of residuary estate available to the beneficiaries) or a gift which the testator thought was to be paid free of tax, results in that gift being subject to tax. Therefore, this reduces the amount that is payable to that individual.
  1. Crucially not all Will writers are qualified or regulated – unlike most areas of finance, the Wills market isn’t directly regulated. Also, the Will is often not checked over by a legal professional. This means that if there are any problems, or if things go wrong, your family Will be left to deal with the consequences at a time when emotions Will already be running high.

If you use a Solicitor-run service, Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and you can also go to the Legal Ombudsman if things go wrong.  You have the peace of mind that compensation Will be payable in the unlikely event of any errors, thanks to the indemnity insurance Solicitors are obliged to hold.

  1. There is also the potential for hidden fees when using an online Will writer:
  • Some Will companies have compulsory charges for holding or releasing the Will and a hefty charge to be the Executor of the Will.
  • Some also charge very high fees at the time of your death, with payment needed before the Will is released.
  • Some insist you use a company of their choosing to deal with the probate, which could amount to 10% of the estate total. Compared to a Solicitor, who Will charge an average 3-4% for a straightforward probate.

This means that overall it is often more cost effective in the long run to use a solicitor for a Will.  It Will ensure it is accurately drawn up, correctly executed and does not result in any of these hidden costs.

Trust in the experts

Hepburn Delaney have an expert Wills and Probate team who can draw up a legally binding Will for you. You can call us on 01442 218090 to find out more.