Drawing up a Will is a wise decision if you want to protect your loved ones from complications after your death.
Some people may worry about the cost, but you can do this for free during October’s Free Wills Month. A group of charities get together during the month with solicitors in England, Scotland and Wales, to offer free Will-writing services. Provided you’re aged 55 or over, you can have a basic Will written or updated for free.
However, if you miss this opportunity, there are plenty of alternatives. Remember that without a Will, you have no say in what happens to your estate on your death. The law decides under the rules of intestacy, which may not fall in line with your wishes.
What happen if I die without leaving a Will?
We look at your options, from the cheapest to the most expensive.
DIY Wills – from around £11
There are plenty of options if you’re comfortable drawing up your own Will. You can complete a Will ‘template’ from online providers or stationery shops. Lawpack, for example, sells DIY Wills online from £11.49. This template is also sold in WHSmith for £14.99.
But beware of the pitfalls. If you make a mistake, the risks involved could be great and the Will deemed ineffective. For example, this could involve misunderstanding legal terms, failing to ensure the Will signing is witnessed, or providing information that isn’t detailed enough. Remember you won’t benefit from the regulatory protection you’d get if a solicitor drew up your Will, or help from the Legal Ombudsman.
The pros and cons of DIY wills.
Online Wills – from around £40
There are a number of online legal services that can create a Will for you. Typically, you’re asked a series of questions on your personal circumstances, which are used to draw up a Will that’s professionally checked, before being sent or stored on your behalf.
For example, SimpleWills.net asks you to complete a questionnaire. You print and sign the Will that’s drawn up based on your answers, with the cost from £38.95 for a single Will. Rocket Lawyer charges a £25-a-month subscription to create, store and update your Will, and any other legal documents you might require. You can ask its team of lawyers any questions you might have using an online form.
Five common mistakes people make in their Wills.
Consumer group Which? offers three different levels of Will writing service. The cheapest is a package costing £99 for a single Will and £156 for mirror Wills for a couple. Once you have completed an online questionnaire, you have access to telephone support from the Wills team.
Using a solicitor – from £150 plus VAT
If you’ve got complicated affairs, or you simply prefer a face-to-face meeting with an expert, then using a solicitor is probably your best option. While this is more expensive than other routes, depending on how complex your affairs are, it could provide peace of mind that there aren’t mistakes that could cause difficulties for your surviving family.
What is a deed of variation?
Ensure your Will remains up-to-date. If you go through any major life changes... it's likely to need changing.
Remember that once you’ve drawn up a Will, you should ensure it remains up-to-date. If you go through any major life changes such as getting married, having children, or going through a divorce, it's likely to need changing. Otherwise, you could review your Will every few years to check it remains in line with your wishes.
The benefits include regulation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and recourse to the Legal Ombudsman if anything goes wrong. You can find a local solicitor through the Law Society. If you're seeking a solicitor that provides specialist advice for older people, you might want to try Solicitors For The Elderly.
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