Making a will online
These days we expect to be able to do lots of things online. So you won’t be surprised to hear that you can create a formal legal document like a will that way too. But you can still get advice if you’re not confident doing it all yourself.
There are different will writing options, including doing it yourself, using a specialist service or a solicitor. Which one you choose will mostly come down to how complex your situation is – in other words, how much you need advice. If you own a business or overseas property, or if you’ve got several marriages or civil partnerships behind you, you might need a fair amount of guidance. And if you’re in that boat, using a solicitor is probably best.
If things are fairly straightforward, but you might still need a bit of support, take a look at specialist online services.
You’ll still have to think about the usual things. Decide who you want to leave your house, your things or your money to, who you’d want to look after children or others who rely on you, and who should be responsible for sorting everything out, for example. Online services usually let you ‘build’ your will by answering questions. Your answers prompt new questions and filter through to templates so you end up with a document in the right language and format.
With the online option you can go at your own pace. That gives you time to get information together and take the time you need to make decisions. You can do it whenever suits you.
And obviously, you can do it from the comfort of your own home – there’s no need to traipse to someone’s office several times when it suits them. You can do it in your pyjamas if you want.
It doesn’t have to be completely DIY
Some online services work in the same way as the document kits you can buy from Amazon or W H Smiths. In other words, you’re on your own. You fill in your details, print out the will then sign it and have it witnessed. But with others, there’s more support available.
In some cases, services offer an expert to check over your wording, suggest any changes you might need to make, and basically give it a seal of approval. Or there might be online ‘chat’ help available during office hours.
But the most useful online services offer a helpline too. That means you can get the personal touch. You can ask any questions you need to and the adviser can take you through the questions, or help you with decisions. The service should make sure you can speak to the same person each time. If things are simple – you’re leaving everything to one or two people, say – you might find you don’t need the advice. But it’s reassuring to know it’s there, just in case.
Once everything’s ready, they’ll check to make sure the will is valid and does what you want it to. They’ll send you a hard copy to sign and they can store it for you too. Some services let you make as many changes as you need to, while others charge if you want to make a change after, say, a month or a year.
It can be good value for money
Web-based versions of the DIY document kits can cost around £20 or £30. But remember, there’s no extra support. Professional will-writing services or solicitors start at around £150 plus VAT but can cost quite a lot more. (If you want to set up trusts or need tax advice, you might pay at least £500 plus VAT.)
An online provider that offers support could be a sensible compromise between solicitors and low-cost providers. They cost from around £100 plus VAT.
In a nutshell
Online services are a useful option for many people writing a will. They let you go at your own pace but give more support than using a kit, often for a set fee.