Should I make my Will online?
Posted on 24th July 2023
We’re all learning to use technology in our daily lives, from banking, reading the news or looking for a dinner recipe. Should we make our Wills online too?
Here are some things you should know.
You can’t make a valid Will online
There have been suggestions that the law could be changed to allow you to write your Will via a text message or by email.
Although a Google search will return results that say you can write your Will online, this is misleading. That’s because the law says you must sign and date your Will with two witnesses, who must also sign it. A valid Will must have ‘ink on paper’. At the moment, electronically witnessed Wills aren’t accepted.
So, you can create the document online, but it will only become valid once it is properly signed and witnessed.
Will writing is unregulated
Did you know that anyone, regardless of their knowledge, experience or expertise, can set up a Will writing business?
You need to confirm that a trained and registered Will writer provides the service. If your Will isn’t properly written your wishes might not be accurately reflected. It could be invalid, in which case you could die intestate, or it could be challenged after you die.
Your Will doesn’t have to be written by a solicitor
Many people choose to use a provider that’s regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). However, this is expensive. An alternative is to work with a Will writer recognised by a professional body such as the Society of Will Writers. The Society protects the public as well as serving the interests of professional Will writers.
The price of your Will
Choosing a qualified Will writer is very different to finding an online service, which will typically offer you a template. The processes are very different and prices vary a lot.
In many cases, if you use an automated online service, your answers in an online questionnaire generate your Will. This will probably be a cheaper option because it’s a simple electronic process to create a basic document.
Ideally, a qualified and regulated professional will review your initial questionnaire.
If the process doesn’t include a face-to-face meeting you’ll increase the risk that your Will is challenged. Someone might suggest you didn’t have capacity to make a valid Will. This means you weren’t properly aware of what making your Will would mean.
And remember, your Will must be signed, dated and properly witnessed.
Advice about what to include in your Will
In many cases an online service doesn’t include the opportunity to speak to an experienced professional. You won’t be able to explain your circumstances, discuss your options or receive suggestions.
There are, in fact, quite a lot of things to consider, including:
what happens if one of your beneficiaries dies before you
what you want your executors to do
how you describe any gifts you would like to leave to be sure that the right things go to the right people or organisations
what happens to jointly owned property, bank accounts and belongings
whether someone might expect you to provide for them in your Will and, if you exclude them, why
whether you need to appoint a guardian for a young child.
Choosing the right type of Will
IIf you simply want to leave everything to your spouse or civil partner when you die, a simple Will might meet your needs.
However, there are many parts of everyday life that can make things more complicated. For example, you might have remarried and have a blended family of children and step children. You might need to make special arrangements for your business or investments. If you would like to leave gifts to a lot of beneficiaries or charities, it’s important to be very specific. This is why taking advice about how to draft a Will can help make sure it accurately reflects your wishes. You can also include things like care for your pets and your funeral arrangements.
It’s very important to accurately describe anyone you would like to be a beneficiary of your Will. Without clear information about their identity, they won’t receive your bequest. Normally, your online Will is simply based on the information you submit and details aren’t checked.
To make an informed choice, check the terms and conditions of any online service provider. Many of them significantly limit their liability for errors. Some providers don’t even take responsibility for including legally valid clauses in your Will.
Online Will checklist
Here are some things you should do before deciding whether an online Will service meets your needs:
read the terms and conditions
check registration with a recognised body
ask if the service includes the advice from trained and experienced Will writers
check whether the service is automated and whether it will be reviewed as part of the process
ask whether there is a single, fixed fee. In some cases, there is a recurring annual fee or a fee after your death, based on the value of your estate.
Please get in touch if you would like to talk about making your Will.
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