Writing a Will – why a £19.99 Will could cost your loved ones dearly

Last Will and testament
Around a third of adults in the UK have a Will – the remaining two thirds have left things to chance. Here’s what you need to know before writing a Will and why using a free or cheap Will writing service could cost your loved ones dearly.

1. DIY Wills spell disaster

DIY Wills - disaster

DIY Wills – whether made using online software or offline ‘packs’ – frequently spell disaster.

Kits designed for writing a Will are available cheaply in many shops and at the Post Office. You can also find various DIY Will websites where you enter your details and get a downloadable, printable Will either for free or for a low fee. But DIY Wills – whether created online or offline – simply spell disaster. Common problems include:

  • The Will may not meet the requirements of the Wills Act and may therefore be invalid.
  • The language used may be ambiguous, causing confusion and upset for your loved ones (not to mention the potential of legal expenses) at an already difficult time.
  • Someone may contest the Will and argue it is not valid, for a number of potential reasons. This can cost your estate thousands in legal fees. If you use a professionally qualified Will writer to prepare your Will, they will prepare clear attendance notes and letters recording your wishes and instructions with you which can be produced in the event of a dispute.
  • The Will may not accurately give effect to your wishes, leaving loved ones without proper provision.

There are countless cases where DIY Wills have been found to be invalid or where their effect was not what the Testator (the name given to a person writing a Will) intended. Read our article ‘When DIY Wills go wrong‘ for just one example of how DIY Wills can result in years of misery for your loved ones.

2. Not all ‘Will Writers’ are qualified

Writing a Will - unqualified persons

Many Will writing services do not use appropriately qualified people to supervise the preparation of Wills.

Writing a Will is not a ‘reserved legal activity‘ under the Legal Services Act 2007. This means that anyone can prepare a Will for you. As a result you can get a Will written very cheaply, but those preparing the Will may have little or no legal knowledge or experience whatsoever.

ALL of the above issues that occur with DIY Wills also apply to Wills that are prepared by unqualified Will writers.

Some Will writing services profess that they are members of Will writing bodies and institutes but in some cases, a closer inspection reveals that the ‘body’ is just another website set up by the Will writing company.

Others say they use ‘qualified’ persons but this means very little without further clarification of what qualifications are held.

Using a firm or company that has qualified Will writers who supervise the preparation of all legal documents is essential. Examples of appropriately qualified people who can supervise the preparation of a Will include:

  • Full members of STEP (the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners)
  • Chartered Legal Executives with a current practising certificate
  • Solicitors with a current practising certificate

However, just because someone is appropriately qualified, does not mean that their service will protect your assets.

3. A basic or Mirror Will offers you very little protection

Basic Wills

The basic Wills offered by many legitimate Will writers, while perfectly legal, do not protect your assets.

Many legitimate Will writing services, despite being supervised by a legally qualified person, offer a basic (and often, therefore, inadequate) Will writing service.

For couples, ‘Mirror Wills’ are often recommended – these allow you to leave everything to your partner and vice versa. However, this type of Will offers very little in the way of protection.

For example:

  • If your partner needs care after your death, most of the family wealth (including your share) will be used to pay care fees (down the £14,250 lower limit).
  • If your partner remarries after your death, their new spouse will be next inline to inherit the family wealth (including your share) rather than your children.
  • If your partner gets into financial difficulty after your death, creditors can take the family wealth (including your share), leaving nothing for the children.

Those who are single may be offered a basic Will allowing them to leave assets to their children, siblings, parents or whoever they choose. But again, these offer little protection against some very common problems – for example:

  • If your child/sibling/parent divorces after your death, the assets they inherited from you may form part of the divorce settlement.
  • If your child/sibling/parent runs into financial difficulty after your death, creditors may take the assets they inherited from you to pay debts.

All of the above scenarios could be avoided by using a Wills specialist such as April King Legal.

4. It is worth spending a few pounds more for a Wills specialist

Our Wills can provide protection against all of the above events – for example:

  • If your partner needs care after your death, ensuring your share of the family wealth is not used to pay their care fees.
  • If your partner remarries after your death, ensuring your share of the family wealth does not pass outside of the family.
  • If your partner gets into financial difficulty after your death, ensuring your share of the family wealth is not taken by creditors.
  • Once both you and your partner have died, ensuring that your share of the family wealth is not taken by creditors or lost in a divorce settlement.

We understand that cost is a huge concern for those looking at writing a Will for the first time. Basic Wills packages can look very attractive on price, but remember that it is a false economy if the Will is not valid or provides little in the way of protection from common lifetime problems.

April King Legal’s fees are highly competitive. We also offer a number of package deals that allow you to make both types of Lasting Power of Attorney at the same time for a very affordable fee.

To find out more about writing a Will with April King Legal, order our free information pack.

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