The pitfalls of online wills

12 October 2021

Last year, research from insurance company, Canada Life, found that 59% of UK adults don’t have a will. As legal professionals, we’re acutely aware of the benefits of planning for the future, so we encourage initiatives that could reduce the number of adults without a will, including online wills, which are better than having no will at all. However, online will-writing services may not always be the best option for you, depending on your circumstances and needs. Here, we explore some of the reasons you may prefer to work with a solicitor when writing your will.

Your situation isn’t ‘simple’

Online wills should function the same way as those drafted with a solicitor, in that they are considered legal and valid documents. The caveat here is that they must be properly prepared and worded correctly and compliantly. If your needs are basic – you are married and want to leave everything to your partner, for example – you might find an online will sufficient. However, if your affairs are not straightforward, which they may not be for a number of reasons, then we wouldn’t recommend it.

Additionally, an online will does not detect whether someone is being coerced into making it. Seeing a will writer or solicitor in person can often establish whether this is the case or not.

There are a number of circumstances that call for a more careful approach to writing your will, with support from a solicitor. For example, if:

  • You have been divorced
  • You own a business and you are leaving it (or its assets) to someone
  • You have multiple properties, or property abroad
  • You have stepchildren or people who are financially dependent on you other than your immediate family
  • You will have to pay Inheritance Tax
  • You have foreign investments or bank accounts
  • Your will includes wishes that could be misunderstood

You’re not familiar with the law

Some of the situations outlined above involve areas of law that are far from straightforward and can be complicated if you aren’t familiar with them. This can be incredibly stressful for people to navigate and also carries risk if you aren’t aware of the most efficient and effective choices.

You want a solicitor to be your Executor

An Executor is the person or people appointed to safeguard an individual’s possessions, pay their debts, and ensure the instructions contained within the will are carried out. An Executor can be anyone over 18 years of age, but sometimes it’s preferable to appoint a professional executor such as your solicitor or a bank.

You want peace of mind

Will-writing services aren’t subject to the same regulations as solicitors, so you’re less protected if things were to go wrong. Using a solicitor to write your will prevents you from falling foul of problems that could invalidate it. It also means your will is safely stored.

Some people use a will template to write their own will. This is the riskiest option with the least protection, as the company that provided the template won’t take accountability for any mistakes contained within your will.

At Adroit, we work closely with individuals – and sometimes their families and friends too – to understand how they would like their assets to be distributed in the event of their death. Our will-writing experts incorporate such wishes into a will.

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