Making a Will Online : Is That Possible?
In the U.K, there are loads of different ways to make a Will online – some of these services are even free, or at least very cheap. But what do and don’t these services offer? Is it always the best way to make a Will?
Read our short guide explaining how and why you might want to make a Will online, and whether or not it’s the best fit for you and your family.
1) Summary in 30 Seconds
- A Will is the legal document where you decide who will inherit your money, possessions and assets when you die.
- There are lots of different online services, either free or very cheap, that can help you write a quick and simple Will.
- There are benefits as well as drawbacks to online Wills, and some people would benefit from getting expert legal advice and help from a solicitor to draft their Will.
2) Why Make a Will?
If you’re currently looking to have a Will made, you probably already know the reasons why you should have one. Despite the accessibility of making a Will online, over half of adults in the U.K. don’t have one. A lot of people will get around to making one eventually, but there are some good reasons why you shouldn’t put it off until later.
- Children. In your Will you can nominate who you would like to be the guardian of your children. If you don’t have a Will or another legal document naming your Guardian(s), the courts will decide who will care for your children. It may not be the person(s) you would have wanted. If it is a complex situation, your children may also temporarily be in foster care.
- Unmarried couples in long-term relationships. There is no such thing as “common-law” husband or wife. Unless you and your partner are married or in a civil partnership, they have no automatic rights to inherit from your estate if you die Intestate.
- Gifts to friends, carers, charities. Even if you don’t have much in the way of money or assets, there are probably close friends or charities close to your heart who could benefit from your estate. You can leave specific gifts of possessions or money in your Will.
- Pets. Don’t forget your pets! Pets are classed as possessions and you can name who you want to care for them in your Will.
With now dozens of online will-writing services, it can be easy to be pulled in by the extremely low prices and appeal of having a valid Will in just a few days, or even hours. With so many aspects of our lives becoming digital, Wills are now part of that. But there are still some draw-backs to making an online Will. Consider a few of these before you sign up for a cheap Will-writing service online.
3) Online Wills : Pros & Cons
Online Will-Writing services and D.I.Y. templates have been available online for a long time now. Does that mean it’s good enough for everyone?
- They are simple. If you think you have a relatively simple estate, then your Will is going to be fairly straightforward. For example, a young couple with no children and minimal assets will probably decide to leave their estate to each other, with the surviving spouse leaving it to any future children. This is not necessarily going to be a complicated Will at this stage of your life.
- They are fast. Many online Will services claim that you can complete the forms in just 15 or 20 minutes, with a physical document produced for you in just a few days. There could be good reasons why you need a Will urgently – for example, if you are setting out on a long trip abroad or are about to undergo medical treatment.
- They are cheap. Prices vary anywhere from free online templates to semi-automated services for a very low fixed fee. For those who cannot afford to spend much money this can be a way to have a basic Will made.
- They are convenient. You can make a Will online in the privacy of your own home, without the need to visit any office. If the service you use offers any kind of guidance or help, it can be conducted via email or chat.
- Not written by a solicitor or legal professional. If you write your own Will or use an automated online service, you will not benefit from the expertise or oversight of a solicitor. This leaves your Will more open to more errors or mistakes that are only discovered when your family tries to manage and distribute your estate after your death.
- No legal advice from a solicitor. In most cases, the service you choose will not include legal advice from a solicitor. Help filling out the form provided will usually be through prompts or “guidance” through the website. Most do not have the facilities to offer one-to-one consultations or advice with a solicitor or other legal professionals qualified to give legal advice.
- No Will storage. Online Will-writing services will usually send you the physical copy of your Will to store yourself. You will need to ensure it is kept in a safe place as the years go by. This may seem like a small thing, but it can be tough over several decades and perhaps several house-moves. If you want to change or amend your Will in the future, you will need to find any copies and destroy them. If your Will becomes misplaced when you die and can’t be traced, your estate will be declared Intestate.
- It is not always regulated. If your Will has not been drafted by a solicitor, the level of protection or indemnity insurance will vary. Will writing itself is not regulated, which is why you can draft a valid Will yourself. Even a professional Will-writing body does not have the same level of protection as a solicitor would. If there is an error or mistake in your Will, it can be harder to get recourse.
4) Have a Solicitor Write Your Will
A simple online Will might be enough for some, but there are some reasons why for your situation or circumstance you might benefit from the oversight and guidance provided by having a solicitor write your Will.
Despite how relatively simple it might be, your Will is a legally binding document that gives you a huge amount of control over the future of your estate, as well as the ability to protect your family when the time comes that you are not here to care for them yourself. A poorly written Will with mistakes or omissions can cause huge amounts of stress and expense to families trying to deal with a loved one’s estate following their death. Your Will is not something to quickly deal with and move on – you want to get it right, and make sure it continues to be up-to-date and relevant as the years go on.
So if you don’t think a quick online Will is good enough for you, speak to a solicitor and have them draft your Will for you. It may be more expensive than an online service, but they can offer a lot more.
- A Will written by a solicitor offers more legal protection. Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), which offers you more protection against negligence or mistakes incurred in the drafting of your Will. If there are any problems or issues, you are more likely to get a satisfactory resolution and financial compensation.
- A Will written by a solicitor will be properly drafted. If you attempt to write your own Will, you may not be aware of any errors you could be making, potentially invalidating it or at least making it difficult to abide by your wishes in the future. A solicitor will ensure that it is properly drafted and fulfils all the legal requirements of a valid will.
- You will benefit from detailed and personalised legal advice. Online will writing services can offer guidance on how to write a Will but are unlikely to be able to offer any legal advice that isn’t offered in a general way. A solicitor will take detailed information from you regarding your circumstances and your estate. You will benefit from advice tailored to you and your own circumstances. They will be able to answer questions throughout the Will-writing process and will continue to help you as the years go on.
- If you have a complex family or financial situation, they will draft your Will with these things taken into account. Most online services can only help up to a point, and will advise potential clients to go elsewhere if they need detailed legal advice. For example, if you have a blended family, your Will is going to have many different family members to take into account. Or if you own property abroad, you will need a solicitor who can ensure that all your assets are properly covered in your Will.
However you decide to make a Will, it is really important that you have one. There are so many services as well as solicitors who can help you get this sorted sooner rather than later.
Lara is a Paralegal and article writer at Legal Group U.K. She specialises in writing about Wills, Probate and other Estate Planning matters. If you have any questions or queries, please contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the contact form.