Welcome to the new world of Will Writing.
Yup, Online Will Writing Services. It’s actually a thing.
It’s the newest and easiest way of making a legally binding will with in minutes (or there abouts) for a lot less money than your average local solicitor. Maybe it’s the perfect solution for the one in two UK adults that don’t have a will!
This will officially be the second blog post I’ve written about Wills. That may not seem like a towering amount, but when you consider that this IS a property/landlord related blog, there’s only so many reasons to keep dragging up my own demise before people will start wondering what is wrong with me!
Don’t worry guys, I’m totally fine!
(someone, please H-E-L-P M-E)!
No, really, I’m A-OKAY!
But in my defence, there was a natural path to how I got here. For the second morbid time.
Being a landlord means I have amassed [valuable] assets that will need distributing to those I want taken care of after my time here is done, so that’s why I decided to start the journey of arranging a Will.
While looking into the process, I stumbled across a couple of interesting facts:
- 1) Seven out of ten landlords don’t prepare Wills;
- 2) a whooping 97% of Brits don’t have a Will or have one that’s outdated.
With that in mind, my first morbid blog post about death and wills was born, with the aim of encouraging landlords & homeowners (and everyone else) to create a Will if they haven’t done so already.
To my surprise, I think my blog post actually encouraged people to plan for their… err… “parting”, but mostly because I sold them on an easy solution. The number one reason for why so many hadn’t arranged a will or kept theirs updated was because, simply, they couldn’t be bothered, so when I shared my ‘online solution’, it piqued a lot of interest:
“You mean, I can sit in my crusty pants while watching Eastender’s and arrange my Will online?”
“Yeah, pretty much!”
“Sign me up!”
So, here we are! Blog post number two about death, where I hope to share my experience of creating a Will online, and in-turn answer a lot of the FAQs that cropped up after my first blog post on the matter…
Table of contents
Different ways of arranging a Will
So, first, let’s take a look at the different options you have available to getting a Will arranged…
- Solicitor – I’m pretty sure many people assume this is the only way of sorting out a valid Will, and consequently why so many go without.
Using a solicitor is definitely the most expensive option; a simple Will can cost £200 + VAT (if you’re lucky). However, the reality is, most people with simple circumstances won’t need to use a solicitor.
For those with complex circumstances, a solicitor might be your best bet. But be warned, many solicitors tend to be generalists, and aren’t actual Will specialists. So if you have a particularly complex case, it’s best to use a Will specialist so you get the best advice.
- DIY Will templates – These are typically off-the-shelf forms, available from stationary shops, but also downloadable from certain websites like lawpack.co.uk. This solution is best suited for simple circumstances, and it’s one of the cheapest ways to do it.
- Online Will Service – and here we are! The online solution to Wills that ticked all my boxes. Unlike template DIY Wills, which you can take home and complete, online DIY will services ask you a series of questions that you complete via their website. Once complete, most services will get it checked and validated by an expert, and then make it available for print. Similarly with DIY templates, this solution is better suited for relatively simple circumstances.
Wills are legal documents, and small mistakes and oversights can cause major problems, so it’s preferable to use a method which includes someone qualified to draft it and validate it, which is exactly why I personally avoided off-the-shelf DIY templates- an option which pretty much means you have to fend for yourself.
Recommended Online Will Writing Services
Since I thought using an Online Will Service was by far the best option for my circumstances (and I assume for most other people with simple circumstances), I thought I’d share my shortlist of the best suppliers, and hopefully save you from the aggro.
|Online Will Service||Rating||Notes / Includes||Price from|
9.7 / 10
9.6 / 10
4.9 / 5
Your Will be done||
9.4 / 10
Please note, I try my best to keep the information of each service provider up-to-date and accurate, but you should read the T&C’s from each website for the most accurate information.
Will Writing Services FAQ
Do I need a Will?
I mean, there’s no legal requirement.
But don’t let that stop you! Unless you’re a sadist, planning for death is uncomfortable, but the situation would be much worse if you died or became incapacitated through unforeseen circumstances – before sorting one out.
Failing to arrange a will can cause years of grief and misery for your loved ones, not to mention added expenses (for them).
What if I don’t have a Will?
You mean, besides from the grief and misery inflicted on your loved ones, I just mentioned above?
Oh, nothing much, other than the fact the law will determine how all your wealth is distributed, and it can take years to get it all sorted!
Unfortunately, dying without leaving a Will is incredibly common, and it’s the root cause of many family disputes and expensive legal battles. Sad, but true.
If you don’t have a valid Will when you die, your money, property and possessions will be shared out according to what is called “intestacy law” (i.e. the government gets to decide). The specifics of the law is different in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but there are some common problems wherever you live, which is nicely highlighted in this article by moneyadviceservice.org.uk. To summeraise:
- If you’re not married or in a civil partnership, your partner won’t be entitled to anything.
- If you’re married, your spouse might inherit most or all of your estate and your children might not get anything (except in Scotland). This also applies if you are separated but not if you’re divorced.
- If you have children or grandchildren, how much they are legally entitled to will depend on where you live in the UK.
- Any Inheritance Tax that your estate has to pay might be higher than if a Will was left.
- If you die with no living close relatives, your estate will be passed to the Crown. This law is known as ‘bona vacantia’.
Err… on that note, it’s probably an impeccable idea to sort out a Will. Pronto!
What are the advantages of using an Online Will Service (like the ones listed above)?
The following is true for most Online Will Services, but may not apply to all:
- It’s a relatively cheap way of writing a Will
- The wills are checked by Will experts
- Unlike with templates available for download and stationary stores, it’ easier for Online Will Suppliers to keep their services updated with the law (which is what the reputable suppliers do)
- It’s a quick and easy process
- An Online Will Service only allows you to do things you can legally do, so anything that will cause your Will to be invalid should either be spotted by the expert during validation, or disabled from doing so by the online software in the first place.
- Your Will is kept safely online, so you can recall it and make any amendments easily. If you only have a hard-copy it can be terribly difficult to make amendments without causing a mess with scribbles.
Are Online Will Writing Services legit (i.e. legally binding)?
Yup. However, technically speaking, an Online Will Service Will simply facilitate in creating your Will. In order for yours to be valid, you must:
- be 18 or over
- make it voluntarily
- be of sound mind
- make it in writing
- sign it in the presence of 2 witnesses who are both over 18
- have it signed by your 2 witnesses, in your presence
How do Online Will Writing services work? What’s the process?
Usually, you just answer a bunch of questions online via a form, and once completed and approved, you can print if off and get it signed.
I can’t speak for all online will services, but generally speaking the process is as follows:
- 1. Complete online form providing personal details
- 2. Complete online form providing details of those you want to inherit your state (money, property, cars etc)
- 3. Define how you want your estate to be split (by percent).
- 4. Define what happens in the event of your beneficiaries dying before me.
- 5. Define the Executors of the Will.
- 6. Check the details entered.
- 7. Pay online.
- 8. Print the will
- 9. If the service includes expert approval (like Beyond.life’s service does), you’ll get notified if there are any problems with your Will.
- 10. Get the will signed & witnessed by a few of your closest pals.
Yup, like I said, the process of creating a will online is easy-peasy!
How long does it take to write a Will online?
Most online services claim that it takes approx 10mins – 15mins to complete (assuming you have the details you need e.g. contact information of all your beneficiaries and executors).
Once submitted, it can take a couple of days for the details to be check and approved, and then ready for print and signing.
Generally speaking, it shouldn’t take take more than a couple of days!
What if I need to update my Will?
Most Online Will Services will have an update facility (i.e. if you wish to add/amend a new beneficiary or assets), but there is usually a fee associated. For example, Beyond.life offer an optional £10 per year, which allows you to make unlimited updates.
Subscribing to unlimited updates makes sense for me, because I usually transfer money around every year, so my savings can benefit from the best paying interest rates (even though they’re dog-shit at the moment). Of course, such a feature may not be necessary for you.
Either way, if you decide to use an Online Will Service, take a look at how they facilitate updates, because each provider may vary.
On a sidenote, if you wish to make any amendments to your Will, you must follow the same signing and witnessing process in order to validate the updates.
How often do I need to update my Will?
The government recommends that you update your Will every five years at least, but it’s more important to update yours whenever there is a significant change in your personal circumstances. For example:
- You have a child.
- You relationship status changes: you get married, engaged, or divorced.
- You buy, inherit, or move into a new house.
- One of the people mentioned in your original Will dies, or becomes less important to you.
- Your finances or assets has changed.
- You change your mind about who should inherit what.
Don’t I need a solicitor to write a Will (Online Service Vs Solicitor)?
Nah, that’s just a common misconception.
While a solicitor is definitely more suitable for complex estates, they generally aren’t necessary for most average people with simple solutions, consequently, many people are overpaying for a service they don’t really need.
Putting the obvious cons of using a solicitor aside for a moment, which includes the extra cost, time required and the inconvenience of going to a solicitor, let’s take a look at arguably the most important factor: which produces the best final product.
According to this article on legalwills.co.uk, a shadow survey revealed that there were just as many errors in solicitor drafted Wills as there were with online services, so the final product may not be lower in quality to a Will and Testament written by a solicitor.
That said, at least with an online service they can amend any oversights, assuming you’ve opted for an ‘update subscription’ (which is offered by a few of the service providers).
Ultimately, both solutions can facilitate in creating a valid will, individual circumstances may mean that using a solicitor might be more suitable than using an Online Will Service, and vice versa.
The main advantage of using an Online Will Service is that it’s quick and cheap. You can literally do it in 10mins (assuming you have all the information you need to hand). Generally, Online Will Services are better suited for simple estates.
The law surrounding inheritances can be complicated, so if you have a particularly complicated estate (i.e. one that includes a business, or a messy relationship status), you might be better served using a specialist solicitor. Solicitors will be familiar with the law and will be able to help you make the most effective choices. Of course, you also have to pay a premium for a Solicitor’s service. They typically charge between £200 – £500 to create a Will, and that’s based on a one time fee, so if you want it updated you may have to pay the same again!
However, something to also bear in mind is that you will have better protection if you use a Solicitor. Solicitors are regulated, so if any problems arise, you can make a complaint to the solicitor’s firm and/or the Legal Ombudsman. Other advantages include,
Online Service Vs Will kit / Templates
I’ve seen a few Will Kit’s and templates circulating, notably one from WH Smiths (£16.99). Incidentally, WH Smiths also provide tenancy agreement kits for landlords (which, after analysing, I’ve been happy to avoid).
The cons of using a Will kit over an online service are similar to writing your own will, only perhaps with a smaller margin for error – but perhaps not as small as you’d like to imagine for a paid solution.
- It’s can be difficult to make updates without buying a new KIT; many people amend the same Will in hand-writing, and constantly move figures and names around, which can quickly become messy and difficult to read.
- There is no error checking by a Will expert.
- Most kits don’t have an “alternate scenario” provision. For example, what happens if your main (or only) beneficiary pre-deceases you.
I can’t speak for all online services, but most of them allow you to make provision for those cases.
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger, I am not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any advice I give is my opinion based on my experience, and is never legal or professional advice. You should always get professional advice on any legal and financial matters!