Do I need a Solicitor to make a Will?
It is possible to write your own Will without the assistance of a Solicitor and some do opt for this option to save on legal costs. However, this is not advisable and there are many advantages to using a Solicitor to make a Will.
In the UK, we have seen a rise in the number of DIY Wills being made within the last 2 years, mainly because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. However, there has also been a 62% increase in inheritance tax disputes.
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What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document which lays out someone’s wishes and determines how their assets (including property, finances and possessions) are to be distributed after their death.
Even if you do not have significant assets, we still recommend that you have an up-to-date Will in place.
Why is it best to use a Solicitor to make a Will?
It is important that you use a Solicitor to make a Will to ensure that your wishes are legally carried out as you intend after you die. A Solicitor can advise you on inheritance tax options, and, most importantly, make sure that there are no pitfalls or errors in your Will that could cause additional distress to your loved ones after you die.
Examples of why it is best to use a Solicitor to make a Will include:
- There are many ways in which the inheritance tax payable can be reduced for your estate. A Solicitor can outline these options to you. You can find out more about inheritance tax here.
- If you were to marry after a Will has been made, the Will is automatically revoked and would require you to make a new one. However, a Solicitor can assist you in drafting your Will in contemplation of marriage. This ensures that your Will still takes effect in accordance with your wishes.
- If you were to divorce after a Will has been made, the Will treats your former spouse or civil partner as having died on that date. Therefore, any gift in their favour will be ineffective unless the contrary is expressed in your Will.
- It is also important that an express revocation clause is incorporated to ensure that any earlier Will made is revoked and your wishes are adhered to in accordance with your later Will. If this is not included, the later Will only revokes the wishes which are inconsistent with your earlier Will.
- Provisions in your Will can be overturned if dependents are not accounted for in your Will. It is important to be aware of this.
- Any alterations must be made correctly otherwise the original gift will remain valid.
- There are risks associated with beneficiaries pre-deceasing yourself if a substitution clause is not incorporated.
- Ensuring that particular wording is used to prevent any disputes over the meaning of words or one’s intentions.
Can I do a Will without a Solicitor?
Whilst it is possible to make a Will yourself to save on legal costs, if the Will contains any mistakes, this can become much more expensive in the long run. Since the pandemic, there has been a rise in the number of DIY Wills made in the UK. If these Wills meet the requirements for a valid Will, then technically, these DIY Wills are legal. However, these DIY Wills may contain mistakes, lack clarity and fail to consider legal provisions that could cause significant difficulties for the people administering your estate, potentially causing family disputes.
This article in The Guardian outlines some real-life examples of people who made their own Wills without the assistance of a solicitor and describes the unwanted consequences and pitfalls that their families faced.
Requirements for a valid Will:
- Must be in writing (the Will must exist as a physical document, preferably typed, but a Will can also be handwritten)
- Must be signed by the testator (where the testator has the full capacity to understand what they are signing and the associated implications)
- Must be signed in the presence of two independent adult witnesses who do not benefit from the Will themselves.
However, these requirements are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Despite fulfilling the above basic requirements, partial intestacy and failures of gifts can still occur. This is why we would always recommend using a Solicitor instead of attempting a DIY Will.
Many typical mistakes of home-made Wills include:
- “I leave my gold necklace to my daughter”. On the face it, there may seem to be nothing wrong with this. However, what if the testator has more than one gold necklace and more than one daughter? One gold necklace could be more valuable than the other and the daughters have a bad relationship. How will you know which daughter is inheriting and which necklace the testator was referring to?
- Referring to “my children” in your Will. Be careful if you have step-children who you have treated as your own. Do you mean your biological children or also your step-children?
- “I leave my car to my son.” Cars are depreciating assets and are often replaced. Unless specified, “the car” which the testator is referring to will mean the car he owns when writing the Will, not the one he owns at the time of his death. What if the testator owns two cars? What if the testator sells his car? Have you allowed for a replacement monetary gift, for example?
Therefore, it is highly unadvisable to write a Will at home or use a DIY Will writing service due to the numerous risks associated with doing so.
How much does it cost to make a Will with a solicitor?
As with all professional services, the cost of making a Will with a solicitor varies. At Crane & Staples, we are proud of our quality work and providing a premium service at a highly competitive price.
- The cost of a Single Will at Crane & Staples starts from £400.00 plus VAT, depending on complexity.
- The cost of Joint Mirror Wills (Wills designed for couples) starts from £550.00 plus VAT, depending on complexity.
If your Will does have more complex requirements, we will provide you with a tailored fee estimate in respect of your solicitor’s hourly rate. Our team’s hourly rates range from £150 - £260 plus VAT. We will always keep you updated in respect of costs.
We offer a bespoke service specifically tailored to your needs and will provide you with a professional, friendly, and personal service.
Can I make a Will online in the UK?
You can make a Will online in the UK. However, you will not receive the specialist advice that you would receive by meeting with a Solicitor.
Online Wills may ask some simple questions and a Will is drafted based on your answers. This carries many of the possible risks and mistakes mentioned above.
If it is your preference to make a Will from home or online, we can offer you a safer way of doing so. We can conduct online video calls with you and advise you on how to ensure the Will is made correctly. Although we always like to meet in person, we understand that this is not always possible. So, if you would like to make a Will online with us, we can help you. We are now familiar with this way of working after we had to adapt throughout the pandemic. Following our video calls, we can also advise you how to ensure your Will is correctly signed and witnessed. This may be helpful if you are unable to attend our offices to sign in our presence.
Do Solicitors charge to keep Wills?
If you would like us to safely store your signed original Will in our fireproof cabinets, then we will happily do so. There is a nominal one-off storage charge for this service of £10 plus VAT per Will. However, this is waived if the Partners of this firm are appointed as your Executors.
We always provide all our clients with a made-up copy of the Will for them to keep at home. This is regardless of what they may choose to do with the original document.
Do you have to register a Will in the UK?
Whilst there is currently no legal requirement to register a Will in the UK, we highly recommend that your Will is registered with Certainty, the National Will Register. This is a national database of Wills. This ensures that your Will can be instantly found. For example, if it is ever lost, misplaced or forgotten over the passage of time. We now register our clients’ Wills as a matter of course and this is included within our fee estimate.
Your Local Wills Solicitors
We are solicitors specialising in wills and trusts in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
We are ranked for personal tax, trusts and probate in the Legal 500. Additionally, we are ranked for Private Wealth Law in the Chambers High Net Worth Guide. These prestigious legal directories profile the best solicitors in each region of the UK. We are very proud to be included.
We are also ranked number 1 for Wills, Trusts and probate in Welwyn Hatfield, on the Review Solicitors website. You can read all our reviews here.
These accolades position us as one of the best Solicitors for Wills in Hertfordshire.
As Solicitors, it is our duty to advise all clients and potential clients on the importance of having a Will. We can advise you on the reasons why you should instruct a Solicitor to prepare your Will. We can also advise on the potential adverse consequences of DIY Wills.
Get in Touch
Our specialist solicitors would be pleased to assist you in writing a Will. Please contact our friendly Private Client Team on 01707 329 333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We look forward to hearing from you.