Getting a solicitor to draw up your will is usually the most expensive way to do it. But if it’s done properly, using a solicitor can save a lot of stress for those you leave behind, as well as giving you a bit more peace of mind.
- What is the cost of making a will?
- Why use a solicitor?
- Using solicitors for free through charities
- Before you see a solicitor
- Find a solicitor
- If you don’t want to use a solicitor
What is the cost of making a will?
The answer varies depending on how complex your affairs are and if the firm is based in a city. The costs of drawing up a will by a solicitor for:
- a simple will – can cost between £144 and £240. So, shopping around and finding someone good for the lower price could save you almost £100
- a complex will – can cost between £150 and £300. It may be more complex as you have been divorced and have children
- a specialist will – that involves trusts or oversea properties, or you want tax planning advice – expect to pay a minimum of £500 to £600 according to Which?
- a mirror will – costs are usually less than doing them individually and are worth considering if you and a spouse or partner want substantively the same (mirror) wills.
Make sure the cost you’re quoted includes VAT. The above prices include VAT.
There is evidence from The Legal Services Board that suggests large potential savings from shopping around for will services. Once you’ve got one quote contact a few others to see if they can beat it. Shopping around may save you £100 for a simple and £150 for a more complex will. Try to find a service you believe will offer you a good quality service at a good price.
Figures above are from the Legal Service Board.
Why use a solicitor?
Seriously consider using a solicitor to write your will if:
- You have assets overseas like a holiday home.
- You run a business and you expect it to form a part of your estate.
- You’ll have to pay Inheritance Tax – this is paid on estates valued at over £325,000 for an individual or up to £650,000 for a married couple.
- Your family position is complicated – perhaps you have children with a previous partner, or you want to make special arrangements for children or a family member with a disability.
The benefits of using a solicitor
Think about what you want to leave and who you want to leave it to in your will before you go to your solicitor – it will save you time and money.
- You’re protected if something goes wrong. Solicitors are regulated. If you have any problems you can make a complaint to the solicitor’s firm. If the solicitor’s firm doesn’t deal with your complaint properly then you can go to the Legal Ombudsman.
- You can be more confident there are no mistakes. Common problems with wills, like using the wrong witnesses or forgetting to have it signed, could mean it’s not valid when you die. Using a solicitor should minimise the risk of things like this happening.
- The complicated bits are done for you. The law surrounding inheritances (including Inheritance Tax and trusts) is complicated. Solicitors will be familiar with the law and will be able to help you make the most effective choices.
- Your will is stored safely. If a solicitor helps you write your will, they’ll usually store the original for you in a fireproof safe free of charge.
What to expect from your solicitor
Your solicitor should:
- explain your options to help you make decisions about your will
- give advice that’s confidential and puts your best interests first
- write and check your will according to your instructions.
Make sure they also give a clear indication of costs and how they’ll be calculated at an early stage.
Solicitors as executors
You can choose to appoint the solicitor or law firm who draws up your will as your executor.
This means they will handle the arrangements for your estate when you die.
Always ask how you’ll be charged – some solicitors will take a percentage of your estate to meet the bills. Others will charge for their time.
Using solicitors for free through charities
There are a number of charities that provide a will writing service for free – but the charity might expect or encourage you to make a donation.
There are also several schemes that let you have a will drawn up by a solicitor free of charge or for a suggested donation.
The largest will writing schemes are:
- Free Wills Month (England and Wales) – this runs twice a year, usually in March and October in specific parts of England and Wales. Find out more about Free Wills Month.
- Will Aid – this runs in November, with around 1,000 solicitors taking part. You usually have to book in advance, as spaces on the scheme are limited and it does get busy. There’s also a suggested minimum donation. Find out more about Will Aid.
Before you see a solicitor
Save time and money by thinking about what you want your will to contain before your visit your solicitor.
Find a solicitor
You can find a qualified solicitor in your area by searching the directories provided by the UK’s law societies:
- in England and Wales: The Law Society
- in Scotland: The Law Society of Scotland
- in Northern Ireland: The Law Society of Northern Ireland
If you don’t want to use a solicitor
You don’t have to use a solicitor if you don’t want to – there are other ways to get your will sorted.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.