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The Complete Guide to Will Writing Services
It’s all too easy to put off writing a will – but this legally binding document is the best way to ensure that your partner, family or friends don’t face complications inheriting your money and possessions.
Thankfully, there are a number of different ways you can make a will. Professional, affordable will writing services are provided by solicitors, local will writers and online will writing services.
This guide will help to explain:
- The reasons for writing a will
- The types of will writing service and their costs
- Whether you should consider free wills or DIY wills
- How to choose the best will writing service for you
To begin with, it may be helpful to clarify some key terms and understand what a will actually is.
What Is A Will?
A will is a document that contains instructions as to how your money, possessions and assets should be distributed after your death.
A will should include information such as:
- Who should receive your money and assets (it can be multiple people – or even a charity)
- Who should look after any children you have under the age of 18
- Who should ensure that your assets and money are distributed according to your will
Will Legal Validity
For a will to be legally valid, it must be written voluntarily by somebody of sound mind.
When writing your will, it should be signed by yourself in the presence of two witnesses who are both over the age of 18. It should also be signed by the two witnesses in your presence (referred to as “signed and witnessed”). Your witnesses should not include anyone who stands to benefit from your will.
For obvious reasons, your will should be stored securely. Popular options include your solicitor, your bank or a specialist will storage service. Some will writers also offer secure storage as part of their service.
Estate – An estate encompasses everything that contributes to the net worth of an individual. It includes assets such as money, property, possessions and businesses.
Beneficiary – A person who is named in a will as somebody who will receive assets, property, gifts or money.
Witness – One of two people who sign your will to confirm that it was you who voluntarily signed it. Witnesses must be over 18 and cannot be a beneficiary of the will.
Executor – The person, named in the will, who will take responsibility for ensuring that the estate is distributed according to the instructions in the will.
Single Wills – A single will is used for an individual to provide instructions as to how their estate should be distributed when they pass away.
Mirror Wills – A mirror will is for couples whose wishes reflect one another’s. Usually, the whole estate will pass to the surviving spouse. Two wills are drawn up which mirror one another – hence the name!
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Why should you write a will?
The reasons for making a will generally fall into one of two categories:
- To enable you to personally determine what happens with your estate – Without a will in place, certain rules must be adhered to when it comes to distributing your assets after you pass away. These rules won’t necessarily align with your own ideas as to how your estate should be distributed.
- To save loved ones stress, worry and even money after you die – A named executor carrying out the instructions of a will is usually the quickest, easiest and fairest way to distribute your estate to friends and family.
You might think that it is relatively obvious what should happen to your estate once you pass away. However, the rules that dictate what happens to your estate if you don’t leave a will – known as intestacy rules – will not always align with what you think is logical.
Here are some common, and potentially surprising reasons, why you should consider writing a will:
You are not married to your partner – If you are not married to (or in a civil partnership with) your partner, no part of your estate will be left to them without a will. When there is no will in place, only children and blood relatives can expect to receive anything. Even if you have been with your partner for decades, the same rules apply.
You have step-children – For the same reasons outlined above, if you don’t write a will then step-children or foster children will not stand to receive any inheritance should you pass away.
You want to determine the legal guardian of your children – Your will is your opportunity to name who should become the guardian of your children in the event of your passing away (if there are no surviving parents). If you do not choose a guardian and set it out in your will, a court will decide who to appoint. It’s likely to be a blood relative – but it might not be the one who you would choose.
You want to reduce the amount of inheritance tax paid on your estate – If your estate is of a certain size – worth £325,000 or more – tax will be payable when you pass away, meaning that less goes to your beneficiaries. However, by writing a will you can make certain instructions with regard to your estate that will reduce the amount of tax paid. Popular examples include leaving your estate to your partner (a spouse never pays tax on assets that you leave them) or leaving money to charity.
How To Write A Will – Will Services Compared
Even if your circumstances are relatively simple, and your estate relatively small, we have seen that there are compelling reasons to write a will. There are a number of different will writing services to choose from – so where should you start?
Hiring a solicitor to help write your will is one of the more expensive ways of making a will. However, there are a number of reasons why using a law firm might represent good value.
A solicitor is a legal expert – and will be able to advise you on how best to distribute your estate. They will help you to produce a watertight will with no ambiguities or forgotten assets. They may even be able to advise on how to ensure less inheritance tax is paid on your estate.
Solicitors are also an authorised and regulated industry – which means that if there are any problems with your will, then you or your beneficiaries may be able to seek compensation. Solicitors will usually store your will free of charge once it has been created.
Advantages: Will solicitors are usually best placed to deal with large estates or complicated family circumstances (for example divorcees and step-children, or large families). They are also a regulated industry, so you have some protection if something goes wrong.
Disadvantages: A solicitor is likely to be the most expensive way to make a will. It can also be a comparatively time-consuming process when compared with online will writing services.
Cost: Expect to pay up to £250 for a simple will and £500 for a more complex will.
Local Will Writing Services
A local will writer is an attractive choice for those whose affairs are relatively straightforward, but who would still value advice and guidance on the preparation of their will. Like a solicitor, a good will writer should also ensure that the will contains no ambiguities or missing information.
However, unlike a solicitor, will writers are not regulated. It may be worthwhile checking that a will writer is a member of a professional body such as the Institute of Professional Will Writers.
Advantages: For anyone looking for advice in preparing their will, local will writers represent a more affordable alternative to a solicitor.
Disadvantages: Depending on where you live, a local will writer may be more expensive than an online service. Unlike a solicitor, a will writer is not regulated and you will not be entitled to compensation if there are issues with your will.
Cost: Expect to pay around £150 for a simple will.
Online Will Writing Services
There are a number of UK online will writing services to choose from. On the face of it, an online will writing service is the most convenient choice – answering a quick questionnaire might be all that is required of you.
However, the cost of making a will online, as well as the level of service, can vary greatly.
Advantages: An online will writing service is often the most affordable. They also make it quick and easy to write a will using intuitive software and questionnaires.
Disadvantages: The level of service offered by different providers varies greatly – not all services will check your will and you may need to pay more to store your will. At the higher end, online will writers are not significantly cheaper than a local will writer.
Cost: Between £50-£150
Here are three example online will writing services in the UK:
1. Affio – Affio is an online service that captures your instructions with regard to your estate and produces a will that you can check, print and sign. The software was developed alongside lawyers, but no lawyer or solicitor will check your will prior to your printing and signing.
A “simple” will is free – but you’ll pay a fee if you have a number of specific instructions. Cost: Free / £50 for a single will.
2. Farewill – Farewill claim to help you make a will online in as little as 15 minutes – and capture all of the information they need via an online form. Once you have provided the necessary details, your will is checked by an expert. However, while the Farewill team includes solicitors, there’s no guarantee that a solicitor will check your will. Cost: £90 for a single will.
3. Co-op Legal Services – Co-op legal services help you to write a will online, which is then checked by a solicitor. The second step means that Co-op’s service is regulated and offers the same protection as using a solicitor would. However, this additional level of security comes at a cost. Cost: £150 for a single will.
How much does a will cost?
Depending on the writing service that you use, the average cost of a will is as follows:
|Will Writing Service||Average Cost|
|Online Will Service||£50 – £150|
|Local Will Writer||£150|
|Will Writing Solicitor||£250 – £500|
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Free Will Writing – Can I write my will myself?
Yes – It is theoretically possible to write your own will, provided that it is signed and dated by yourself and two witnesses. However, it is not recommended unless your estate and instructions are incredibly simple (for example, if you want to leave your entire estate to your partner, or if they have passed away already, your children).
DIY wills are not suitable if your estate includes assets such as overseas property or a business, or if you have divorced, remarried or have step-children.
One of the main challenges when writing a will yourself is making sure that your wishes are completely clear and easy to interpret. To mitigate the risk of vague instructions, you can download a will kit or will template online such as this one, or use a free will writing service such as Free Wills.
Remember that you will also need to find somewhere safe to store your will. There are many will storage services to choose from, or you can use the UK Government’s probate service to store your will (it costs £20 to store a single will).
How To Choose The Best Will Writing Service
In order to determine the best will writing service for you, it may be helpful to consider whether your estate and family circumstances are straightforward or complex.
While the statements below do represent exact definitions of each term, you can use them to help identify traits which match your own scenario.
- You have a partner and/or children who will be the main beneficiaries of your will
- Your estate comprises simple assets such as savings, property and possessions
- Your estate is worth less than £325,000
- You are divorced from your partner
- You have step-children
- You have a large family and intend to name many beneficiaries in your will
- Your estate includes assets such as overseas property or businesses
- Your estate is worth over £325,000
If your circumstances are mostly straightforward – a simple online will writing service or local will writer can meet your needs. For peace of mind, you may wish to choose a service which guarantees that your will is checked by a solicitor, or that the service is a member of a trade body.
Alternatively, you could even write your own will, however this comes with some risk.
If your circumstances are more complex – it is probably worth engaging with a solicitor or a more experienced will writer. Their guidance and advice can help make dividing your estate a straightforward process – and even reduce the inheritance tax paid on the estate. Solicitors are a regulated industry and you will have some protection should issues arise with your will.
How To Find A Will Writing Service
For the vast majority of people in the UK, writing a will represents a modest investment which delivers significant peace of mind – both for you and your loved ones.
Many people prefer to use a local will writing service or solicitor to make their will. You can find highly rated will writers using Rated Near Me.
Rated Near Me offers a completely free service to help you get quotes from reliable solicitors and will writers in your area.
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