The need to seek formal will writing service will depend on the complexity of your will. If you wish to leave all your assets to one person and not provide any further conditions, a DIY may be sufficient.
Solicitors are regulated and give you more protection and will writing services are not generally regulated.
A will writing service can be cheaper than a solicitor and more reliable than a DIY will – but make sure you choose one that’s accredited.
How will writing services work
Will writing services can work:
- Online and/or
- By post
Some banks offer a will writing service – ask yours if they can help. But make sure you check that you can choose your own executor as some banks charge a lot for this. 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 etc. and distribute them among the beneficiaries.
- Who you would like to benefit under your will (“beneficiary”) and how (i.e. 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, and
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
- A will writing service is usually cheaper than a solicitor.
- Online services let you work at your own pace.
- Face-to-face will writers will usually visit you at home when it’s convenient for you.
- There’s a wide choice of companies offering this service.
- 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
Choose a service that has at least £2 million of professional indemnity cover - if things go wrong, this gives you a better chance of compensation.
Check that the service belongs to one of these organisations:
- The Society of Will Writers
- The Institute of Professional Will Writers
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, you should still check for membership of one of these two organisations – writing wills is not covered by the same regulations as bank accounts or investments.
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 mins with professional support from Farewill. Available to those who live in England and Wales
Coop Legal Services in partnership with cancer 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 are not simple.Available to supporters in England and Wales.
Which? Wills writing service
You can buy a will document now, 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.
Tips if you need to get witnesses
- Do you have neighbours or local volunteers that could witness at a distance? E.g. on the garden table with witnesses 2 metres away, they one by one come up and sign it with their own pen. I would suggest any wills signed during this period are resigned once this period of isolation. Since 31 January 2020, it has been legal to witness a will remotely in England and Wales. This could include Zoom or FaceTime, for example. 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.
Other options for writing your will
Over 60 and a stroke survivor living in England, Wales or Scotland
Stroke Association : If you’re 60 or over, or a stroke survivor of any age, you can make your will for free with our Free Will Scheme. They will 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.
A wide range of other charitable organisations also provide assistance with will writing, and hope you will leave a donation in your will. So it’s also worth checking with Unicef, NSPCC, Dementia UK or Cancer Research.
If you opted to include legal cover with your home insurance policy, 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.
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