Sunday, 7 April 2019
Web-based Will-writing services have become more popular in recent years given that we are spending increasing amounts of our time online. However, there are serious risks to using these online templates as a substitute for proper legal advice. We firmly believe that the advantages of instructing a Solicitor to prepare a Will instead of an automated system completely outweigh any possible convenience element to having a Will prepared online. Important issues to consider include:-
Solicitors’ experience and training
Becoming a Solicitor means many years of studying and training. After they qualify, Solicitors must also complete training to keep their knowledge up to date. When you come to see a Solicitor about writing your Will, you have the reassurance of knowing that we have the right expertise to guide you through the process. For something as important as a Will, the peace of mind is very important.
Most online providers do not hold themselves out to be law firms and therefore will not be regulated by the Law Society or any another professional body. This means that clients will not have the same protections that come with instructing a solicitor to prepare a Will.
Estate Planning Issues
Clients are extremely unlikely to receive any advice online regarding complex estate planning issues. Most online services only ask a series of simple questions which would not identify the need to undertake further planning. The fact that a Will can be prepared in 10/15 minutes certainly does not suggest that it has been tailored to the client’s specific requirements.
Pricing – Ongoing annual fee
While the one-time fee for an online Will may seem fairly attractive in comparison to a solicitor’s fee some web-based providers charge an ongoing annual fee thereafter in case the client has updates to make. If you cancel the annual fee you will then need to pay the one-time fee again if you wish to make any updates. Clients could potentially end up paying more than having a Will accurately drafted by a Solicitor. A Solicitor will try to “future-proof” the Will as far as possible. If the client does need to refresh their Will, depending on the circumstances, it could be that it can be updated using a Codicil which sits alongside the Will. This can be more cost-effective in the circumstances.
Many of the online services only cover England & Wales. If a client has such a Will prepared but actually lives in Scotland it could cost their estate more in legal fees to rectify the situation.
At Stevenson Marshall, we have a team of highly experienced Solicitors ready to help you make a Will. If you would like to discuss Wills or indeed any other aspect of Lifetime Legal planning then please contact one of our Lifetime Legal team on 01383 721141.