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Is a ‘Simple Will’ the best way forward?

Many people believe their affairs are ‘simple’ and so an online Will is appealing – they think it saves time, is a relatively inexpensive process and it is on your timescale.  However, it is doubtful whether this is a sensible approach if you wish to leave your family and loved ones in the best possible position when you pass away.

Recent studies from the consultancy firm Funeral Solution Experts have shown that 65% of people who have written their Wills online, and who considered their Wills to be ‘simple’, actually have far more complex needs and require assistance from legal professionals.

It is estimated that only 5% (approximately 60,000) of Wills are written online per year but over half of these Wills end up being contested. This could leave both family members and the beneficiaries of an estate in dismay.

Protection

When using a guide online you have no protection if your Will is challenged.

A study by Direct Line in 2019 showed that 1 in 4 people in the UK would be willing to contest a loved one’s Will if they disagreed with the provisions made for them. If your Will is contested and it was executed without the assistance of a legal professional, there is limited protection against a disgruntled beneficiary.

Solicitors are required to have indemnity insurance which can cover millions of pounds for potential claims. Online Will guides have no requirement for indemnity insurance and therefore cover absolutely nothing. The consequences of not having indemnity insurance is that there is no financial compensation for potential losses to your estate if your Will is contested. This means your intended beneficiaries will have to sacrifice part of their inheritance in the event that your estate becomes contentious. Their inheritance will be spent on legal fees and the contested parties’ inheritance, which is most certainly not what you would have intended when drafting your Will.

However, if writing your Will with the assistance of a legal professional, the risk of disputes can be mitigated as they should discuss with you and take detailed notes on the following:

  • Your reasons for creating a new Will.
  • Your mental capacity at the time you give instructions and when you sign the Will.
  • Whether there are any concerns about someone placing pressure on you to prepare your Will in a certain way;
  • Whether you have considered all possibilities and ways in which you can distribute your estate.
  • Whether you understand how the inheritance tax burden will fall and who will be paying it.
  • Letters left to accompany your Will, which can show your reasoning as to why certain beneficiaries have been left out or received less than they may have anticipated.

Most online Will guides would not consider your Will ever being challenged and will therefore not provide any documentary evidence to support your decision making process.  By contrast, when you see a solicitor to draft your Will, you can be re-assured that all scenarios have been considered and everything has been done to protect your wishes should your Will be contested.

Service

With online Will guides and some Will writing services, the level of service you receive cannot be compared to the level you should expect when you are writing your Will.  It is, after all, one of the most important documents every person should have and deserves time and consideration when being drafted.

You should have peace of mind, knowing that your assets are safe and will be properly distributed once you pass away.  Speaking to someone who is qualified in the field and who can discuss complex provisions in your Will with other solicitors greatly benefits you and your family.

For further information, please contact Sam Hoskins in our Wealth and Estate Planning team.

Sam Hoskins

0207 288 4764
07557 804711
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