Will writing services – pros and cons

Money Advice Service

A will writing service can be cheaper than a solicitor and more reliable than a DIY will – but make sure you choose one that’s accredited.

How will writing services work

Will writing services can work:

  • Face-to-face
  • Online and/or
  • By post

Some banks offer a will writing service – ask yours if they can help. But make sure you check that you can choose your own executor as some banks charge a lot for this.

If you chose a face-to-face service, a will writer will usually make an appointment to come and see you at home.

They’ll talk to you about your family and personal circumstances, including

  • Your assets and who you would like your executors to be. Executors are the people who collect in your assets, pay any debts/taxes etc. and distribute them among the beneficiaries.
  • Who you would like to benefit under your will and how (i.e. in what proportions, including specific gifts, charitable legacies and so on) and give you advice on the best way to organise it.

When they understand what you want, they’ll draft your will for you.

With an online service you visit a website to answer questions about your will.

When you’ve finished, the service sends you a draft will by post or email for you and your witnesses to sign.

Some online services have a telephone helpline to help you with any questions, and some will let you speak to a specialist will writer before you start.

Should you use a will writing service?

A will writing service could be a good choice for you if:

  • You understand the basics of how wills work but want some extra advice to make sure your will is done properly.
  • You want to pay less than a solicitor would charge, and
  • Your will is going to be quite simple. For example, if you’re leaving everything to your immediate family and your estate doesn’t include anything like overseas investments or a company you own.

Will writing services – pros and cons

  • A will writing service is usually cheaper than a solicitor.
  • Online services let you work at your own pace.
  • Face-to-face will writers will usually visit you at home when it’s convenient for you.
  • There’s a wide choice of companies offering this service.
  • Regulation isn’t the same as for solicitors, so you won’t have the same protection if something goes wrong.
  • Not many will writers are fully legally qualified – but if they’re a member of a recognised trade body, they have been trained in wills and estate planning.
  • They might not be able to store your will securely like a solicitor can.

Using a will writing service – before you start

Choose a service that has at least £2 million of professional indemnity cover – if things go wrong, this gives you a better chance of compensation.

Check that the service belongs to one of these organisations:

  • The Society of Will Writers
  • The Institute of Professional Will Writers

Members of these organisations must:

  • Have training that’s regularly updated
  • Be insured to cover legal costs if your will is challenged, and
  • Follow a code of practice approved by the Trading Standards Institute

If you use a will writing service from your bank, you should still check for membership of one of these two organisations – writing wills is not covered by the same regulations as bank accounts or investments.

Other options for writing your will

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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