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Is an Online Will Right for You?

View profile for Hardeep Gill
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The rising popularity of online Will writing has the potential to increase the risk of future disputes over the validity of those Wills and the risk of other contested probate cases.

Between 2019 and 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people making Wills at home increased significantly as solicitors’ offices were forced to close as part of the government mandated lockdown. Many people turned to online Will writing companies for help, but if mistakes were made while writing these Wills, these companies are generally only offering limited liability covering just the cost of the Will.

Simon Cox, co-founder of Funeral Expert Solution, revealed that online Wills are a cost-effective way to save money over the traditional route if affairs are simple ‘There is no doubt that an online will can be a good solution if affairs are genuinely simple and can save money versus a more traditional solicitor route'.

But the potential for problems is arising where consumers are often incorrectly labelling their affairs. Mr Cox adds: ‘Our research shows that 65% of consumers who rate their own affairs as “simple” subsequently reveal through questioning that their affairs are in fact “complex”.’

Having a Will is vital, however, there are many benefits and problems that can come with an online Will service. Even if you believe your affairs are simple, it is important to understand the dangers and why working with a reputable firm of solicitors is the safest option.

Why is having a Will important?

Having a Will is extremely important as it controls what will happen to your savings, investments, property, and possessions when you are no longer around to oversee them.

Having a Will can help to reduce the inheritance tax on your estate, avoid disputes between family members, as well as arrange who will care for your children after your passing (if they are under the age of 18).

Those who die without a Will, are classed as dying ‘intestate’, and their assets will be shared under the rules of intestacy. This typically means assets will be divided between a spouse/or civil partner, children, or other close relatives in a way that might not match your wishes.

Are online Wills legal?

Choosing to write a Will online rather than the traditional way is perfectly legal. The same requirements are needed, such as being over the age of 18 and being of ‘sound mind’. Upon signing the Will, it must be witnessed by two other people who are over the age of 18 and are not beneficiaries of the Will.

How do you write a Will online?

Writing a Will online can be similar to the traditional solicitor method. You will need information on your assets, your chosen beneficiaries, and any other wishes.

  1. You will need to answer a series of questions regarding your circumstance, for instance, details such as are you married, in a civil partnership or single, where your assets are located, etc.
  2. Legal experts will analyse your details, recommend any changes, and do a final review
  3. Once your Will has been approved, you will need two non-beneficiary witnesses to the signature

While online Will companies often market themselves very effectively, a growing number of traditional law firms are offering an online Will writing service, giving you the convenience of making a Will online with the reassurance of traditional legal expertise.

What are the benefits of writing a Will online?

Writing a Will through an online Will writing company can be an attractive option, with some of the benefits including:

  • Time saving – arranging an appointment with a solicitor and travelling to their offices takes time. However, making Wills via video conferencing is a topic that is on the rise as the government are introducing new legislation which will allow people to witness a Will being made through a video-conferencing platform.
  • Lower costs
  • Professional legal oversight (the quality of which will vary depending on the service you choose)

What are the problems with writing a Will online?

We recognise that the benefits of making an online Will sound appealing, but when writing a Will, specific wording and arrangement needs to be considered. If a Will isn’t written accurately, it could impact the distribution of an estate in the future.

Important issues to consider include:

  • Quality of advice – if you have a complex estate, you need advice from a qualified professional who has experience in dealing with complex cases. If you receive advice that is incorrect, it means that there is the possibility of your Will being invalid or your wishes not being implemented.
  • Safeguarding – When using a professional Wills solicitor, they will have had the proper training and qualifications, as well as being bound by the SRA standards and regulations, as well as having insurance. This isn’t always what online companies necessarily have, meaning if there is a mistake, they offer little liability.
  • Legal language – Specific words need to be used in a Will to ensure that it is correctly understood when the time comes. Professional Will solicitors know the legal language that is needed, something that online Will providers might not necessarily know.
  • Reducing inheritance tax – solicitors can help their clients to reduce the amount of inheritance tax their estate will need to pay. This might not be considered with an online Will company.

What alternative ways are there to write a Will?

Using a professional Wills solicitor

The best option to ensure that your Will is properly drafted is to have the assistance of a specialist Will solicitor who has experience with all manner of Wills, from simple to complex. They will be able to draft the Will, use the correct terminology and help to reduce the amount of inheritance tax on your estate.

Our Will solicitors in Kent can provide top-quality legal advice and assistance regarding drafting a Will. Much of the process can now be carried out remotely, allowing us to offer a convenient service that fits around your life and concerns.

A DIY Will

A DIY Will is one that is made without the assistance of a professional Will writer. This means it has been drafted by you and it will still need to be legally signed, with two non-beneficiaries witnessing the signature.

We would not recommend a DIY Will as there is a high chance that it would not drafted properly, meaning that it might be invalid, not have the effect you may have intended and/or increase the risk of disputes over your estate when you pass away.

Get in touch with our Wills solicitors in Kent

If you need advice and/or assistance in making a Will or are looking for further information, please get in touch with our team. We can arrange an initial appointment to determine your needs and how we can aid you.

Call us on 01474 351199 or use our contact form, and we will get back to you promptly.

For further information please call to speak to one of our experts on 01474 351199