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Home Who Should Write Your Will

Who should write your will

Do it yourself

There are a number of packs available from stationers or you can write out your will on a piece of paper. You won't get any advice on content, so the will you end up with may not best suit your circumstances. Your will should also take into account scenarios that you may not have thought of.

It only takes one ambiguous word to cause problems and if what you write down doesn’t make sense legally, you can’t come back and correct it. And there is no one for your beneficiaries to sue if you haven’t got it right!

On line provider

A website will collect your information, (this is called your ‘instructions’) from which a will is then drafted. The quality and effectiveness of the will that you get will depend on the information that the website chooses to collect from you. You won’t get any advice so you may end up with a will that does not best suit your circumstances.

Solicitor

They will take your instructions, and should give you any advice that you need and then draft your will based upon your circumstances and desires. Make sure that the person that you deal with at the firm is trained and qualified in wills - not all solicitors are - and not everyone who works at a firm of solicitors is a solicitor. It is also worth noting that the Law Society no longer insists that solicitors sit exams in will writing as part of their education or training. Furthermore, solicitors may practise in other areas of law and can receive training each year in any aspect of law of their choosing - so they are not always specialists. Some will have demonstrated their expertise by becoming ‘STEP’qualified. Ask to see their qualifications.

Solicitors quite often operate a vague fee structure based on an hourly rate rather than fixed fees for their services. Ask them to provide details of all their fees prior to the appointment. Many law firms also offer wills as a 'loss leader' in the hope of becoming the executor of your will – the person who deals with your affairs when something happens to you. This is a position of trust and responsibility and in many cases family members or friends can carry out this role. A professional executor of your will may charge thousands for their services (usually a percentage of your estate plus an hourly rate) and cannot be removed if your family feel that they could carry out the role themselves. Ask them to explain what an executor does and explain their fee structure before agreeing to them being appointed as your executors.

Professional Willwriter

They will take your instructions, should give you any advice that you need and then draft your will based upon your circumstances and desires. Most will make home visits and visit outside normal working hours. Make sure that the person that you deal with at the firm is trained and qualified in wills – not all willwriters are. Ask to see their qualifications. Make sure that the willwriter has professional indemnity insurance, is a member of a professional body and subscribes to a Code of Practice which includes a complaints procedure which is independent from the willwriter and independent from their professional body – just in case things don't go to plan.

Beware of ‘special offers’. Often willwriting firms will advertise a cheap will in the hope of selling you some expensive additional extras such as its probate services in which they will seek to become your executor or offer assistance to your family in administering your estate when something happens to you. Many will require payment for these services up front. If you are asked to pay at the time of making your will for a service to deal with your estate when something happens to you, find out what happens to your money if the firm is no longer in business when you die. Ask to see details of all their fees in advance of the appointment to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Bank

You will either be sent a form to complete or a bank official will take your instructions and then forward the details on to a processing centre. You are unlikely to get any bespoke advice on how best to structure your will unless whoever is collecting your information is trained and qualified in wills, so again, you may end up with a will that does not best suit your circumstances. Beware also of banks that appoint themselves as your executors where they can take as much as 5% of your estate in fees when you die.

The cost of making a will

Firstly check whether the fee you are quoted includes VAT or if VAT needs to be added. One factor which influences how much you pay is the content of the will and how complex it needs to be to deal with your circumstances and needs. The qualifications of the people doing the work for you will also be a factor. Someone who is qualified in wills, and has to invest time completing ongoing refresher training will need to charge more than someone who has had or receives little or no training in wills.

Another factor will be what service you get. Do you get advice when giving your instructions? Is anyone available to explain the document once it has been produced? Do you get someone to supervise the signing and witnessing of your will to ensure that it is signed and witnessed correctly?

A summary of what to ask your will provider:

  • What qualifications do their staff have in preparing wills?

  • How many hours compulsory training per year do their staff complete in preparing wills?

  • Do they have professional indemnity insurance?

  • Do they provide details of all their fees in advance of the appointment?

  • Do they provide advice to tailor your will to your exact circumstances?

  • Do they provide advice to minimise inheritance tax and protect assets from long term care and other threats?

  • Do they provide a two visit system to ensure the will is signed and witnessed correctly?

  • Do they provide an independent system of redress if the client is dissatisfied?

  • Are they working to a Code of Practice with independent approval – such as from the OFT?

 

 

 

 

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