What you need to know before writing an online will
Our lives are profoundly integrated with technology, so it isn’t a surprise that it’s playing a bigger part than ever in legal services. Wills, in particular, has been a popular subject over the past couple of years since it’s now become possible to draw up your Will online.
Statistics show that alternatives to traditional Will writing with a solicitor are on the rise: Farewill reported a 267% increase in the number of Wills written at home between 2019 and 2020. The pandemic, which put a stop to face-to-face meetings between solicitors and testators in many cases, certainly had a significant impact on this increase.
‘DIY’ online Wills do allow for some unique benefits and are often pitched as being quicker, easier and more convenient to write, compared to going through a law firm. While this may be partly true, some elements of writing a Will are made trickier by being written online.
A Will is one of the most important legal documents you will ever write, so keep reading to find out everything you need to know before writing yours.
Simple vs Complex Wills
It’s important to know whether your Will falls into the category of simple or complex. Simple wills are suited to people who have small families and few assets which are passed on straightforwardly, for example, to a direct heir.
A Will is rated as complex if the estate is distributed in differing proportions to many beneficiaries or if the testator has assets abroad, children from a different marriage etc.
DIY online wills are best suited to simple Wills. However, research shows that when completing the process independently, without the guidance of a solicitor, testators are not always accurate at judging which type of Will they have.
Simon Cox, a co-founder of Funeral Expert Solution, stated in an article from October of this year that 65% of their consumers who made wills online rated their affairs as simple only to realise through further questioning that their Will was in fact classified as complex.
Cox expressed that the online Will writing sector is creating an “ever-increasing bank of Wills” that will need to be challenged once the testators have passed away. This is a worrying state of affairs that can be avoided by seeking the help of a trained probate solicitor to draw up your Will, rather than trying to tackle it on your own.
Our Wills Team at Osborne, Morris and Morgan are specialists in this field. They are on hand to answer any questions you may have throughout the process and will guide you through it step by step, making suggestions that have you and your heirs’ best interest in mind.
Is writing a Will online cheaper?
One of the principal benefits of writing a Will online is that it is often cheaper (online templates are available for free) and more convenient, fitting flexibly around your schedule.
If you choose to write your will under the consultation of a solicitor, you are required to meet and go through all the relevant documents regarding your property, vehicles, investments etc. If something is missed or you’d like to change anything, you must book another meeting with the solicitor. However, with an online will, you can upload documents at your leisure, adding and subtracting them as suits and at any hour of the day.
For testators wanting to write mutual wills with their partner, it can be a struggle to find time for both of you to meet with a solicitor, therefore a DIY Will may seem more suitable to your needs. Plus, digital will writing companies often offer online chat or telephone support outside of normal office hours.
However, even if the person giving you advice is a qualified solicitor, there is no guarantee they specialise in Will writing. Our solicitors, on the other hand, are fully qualified Will writing specialists, experienced in every step of the process.
Are there fewer steps involved?
With an online Will, the number of steps taken to complete your document can be reduced. Digital will writer, ‘Freewill’, claims to have got it down to just 3 steps and,‘Willed’, states that the whole process takes 20 minutes from start to finish. However, speed is not necessarily a credit to the will writing process. As with everything, if you’re rushing through it, you’re more likely to make mistakes.
When choosing which method of will writing is best suited to you, it’s important to remember you cannot change your Will after it has been signed and witnessed without making an official alteration called a codicil. Also, although you may feel you are proficient in answering the questions and providing all the information that is requested by the online will writing company, this doesn’t mean it will be worded appropriately for a legal document.
Think of how devastating it would be for your heirs if your assets were to go to the wrong person or were withheld simply because of a wording error.
Our solicitors at Osbourne, Morris and Morgan have experience writing hundreds of Wills. You can trust them to know how to phrase your wishes for managing your estate in language that cannot be misinterpreted after the event of your death.
Are online Wills written to the correct standard?
An online Will is usually better than no Will at all and at least lowers the risk of you dying “intestate”, whereby your estate will be divided up according to legal standards. Yet, with a DIY Will there is a higher chance of your Will being challenged, or worse, rendered invalid. If you choose to go through an online company and something were to go wrong, there is no restitution.
By taking the writing of your Will into your own hands there is no one held responsible, and it will be your executors (the people named in your Will to carry out your wishes after you die) who will have to negotiate the terms of the mistake.
On the other hand, by going through a law firm and consulting a solicitor, if a blunder were to occur with the writing of your will or if it is challenged after your death, the responsibility lies with them.
So, what should I do?
There are many factors to weigh up when considering whether to write your Will online, including cost, convenience, whether your Will is simple or complex and whether the risks associated with an online will are worth it.
Our Solicitors are available remotely via email or video call to iron out any issues and resolve any queries that arise from drafting your will, rather than having to attend lots of meetings.
It is in your own best interest and that of your loved ones, who will inherit your estate, that you feel happy with the content of your Will and completely confident that it reflects your wishes. By writing your Will with a solicitor at Osborne Morris and Morgan, this confidence is guaranteed. If you’d like to find out more about writing your Will, get in touch with us today on 01525 378177 or fill out the contact form on our website.