Are online Wills worth the paper they aren’t written on?
Posted on 22nd October 2021
While most people in the UK believe their affairs are simple, their requirements are often quite complicated when it comes to their Will.
According to recently published research online Will writing services often fail to consider things that can significantly affect the details of your Will such as marital status, children, assets, business and property ownership, overseas property investments and disinheritance.
The research looked at three main types of online Will writing service:
online DIY Wills with little intervention
Wills that use pre-qualification questions to recommend whether a ‘simple Will’ is suitable
two-step Wills with a follow up call to clarify whether a simple or more complex solution is needed.
The research concludes that online Wills might not obtain enough information to give good recommendations, leading to a rise in challenges to Wills.
There are also gaps in consumer protection for people who use online Will writing services. The Legal Services Board is due to look at recommendations called for as part of the Independent Review of Legal Regulation. These include minimum indemnity cover and access to the Legal Ombudsman for customers.
There are also concerns about the depth of knowledge, even amongst qualified legal professionals, about this specialised area of the law. Qualifications such as those offered by the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), which are open to regulated and unregulated professionals, should be recommended or required.
Templated Wills are widely used, allowing people to create an online Will without assistance, however there are often drafting issues with these. There is a risk that these Wills won’t do what the testator intended. They might even be invalid if they haven’t been properly executed.
Many people might choose online services that allow them to write their Will in the comfort of their own home. While some online Will providers include wide-ranging questions and flags to highlight when a more complex Will is needed, many of the 65% of people who believe their requirements are simple won’t take time to complete the process.
The research highlights that many people don’t understand the difference between simple and complex Wills. Even people with relatively straightforward estates might only be able to make their bequests as they would wish using Trusts, for example, because they have a complex family structure.
New ways of working are needed that provide a more efficient and cheaper service that has built-in safeguards to protect people’s interests and wishes.
People want and expect to use technology in many aspects of their life. Unfortunately, for the time being, online Wills might not be the best option for many.
If you would like to find out whether the requirements for your Will are simple or complex, please get in touch.
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