Every single adult should have a Will in place, but most do not. If you are reading this, you may have given some thought to writing a Will, but not sure how to get started. You have seen different approaches to writing a Will, but you are not sure which services offer a quality, affordable Will writing service, without questionable extras. Hopefully this overview will help you take the next step.
Why you need a Will.
A Will allows you to describe the distribution of your estate. It puts somebody in charge of the process, and it allows you to do things like name a guardian for your children, make charitable bequests and set up trusts.
If you die without a Will, the courts take over. Your family and loved ones will have to work their way through a court process that will eventually do the work of your Will, but probably not the way you would have wanted.
The courts will put somebody in charge of the process. Hopefully this is somebody with the administrative skills needed, and a person who has a good rapport with your family and your beneficiaries. They are going to have to work with the people you have left behind to distribute everything you own according to a legal formula. In the meantime your assets will be frozen.
Then your assets will likely be liquidated and divided according to the laws of “intestate succession”. If you are married without children, then it is possible that your intended distribution plan would match the intestate succession plan. But in almost every other case, your assets will be divided in a very strange way.
What does a Mirror Will mean?
A Mirror Will is actually two Wills, usually created by spouses or partners, that names each other as the main beneficiary, with each Will having a backup plan in case both partners are involved in a common accident. It is one of the most common approaches for couples when preparing their Last Will and Testament.
A Mirror Will is very different to a joint Will which is one document that serves the needs of two people. Joint Wills used to be popular many years ago, primarily as a time saving tool. It saved the Will writer having to type out two very similar Wills, when only the main beneficiary was different.
Joint Wills were also popular in a time when the patriarch of the family was considered to own the assets, and a wife was thought to not have an equal claim over the estate.
However, in modern times joint Wills are rarely used. Attitudes towards asset ownership, and the efficiency of Will writing software means that there is absolutely no advantage in preparing a joint Will. But there are many disadvantages.
The main disadvantage of a joint Will is that it creates confusion when one partner writes a new document revoking previous Wills, and it becomes unclear whether both parties are bound by the terms in the old joint document. In general, joint Wills should be avoided.
What are the different types of Wills?
There are a few other variations on the joint Will or Mirror Will. A Mutual Will is a pair of Wills that a made after a legal agreement is put in place to dispose of combined assets in a certain way. What makes a Mutual Will unique is that neither can be revoked (or cancelled) without agreement from both partners. There are many resources online that describe a Mutual Will as the same as a Joint Will. This is incorrect. Mutual Wills are extremely unusual, and are rarely the best option. Typically one person makes a standard Will, and then contractually ties the second person into an irrevocable Will. It’s a legal challenge waiting to happen!
The term “Reciprocal Will” can also be used in place of either a mutual Will or a Mirror Will. A Reciprocal Will simply means that the two documents have been written to benefit each other. Continue reading
Six Common Estate Planning Mistakes
Estate planning is a critical part of financial planning, but a task that often never quite makes it to the top of your To Do list. Having your final wishes clearly set out can relieve your loved ones of unnecessary stress and financial burdens. To help you along your estate planning journey we have listed 6 common mistakes that anyone can make when writing a Will.
Mistake #1: Assuming that Wills are only for the wealthy
According to a recent YouGov survey, nearly two thirds of the British adult population do not have a Will. Continue reading
Will writing options
Before the advent of online Will writing services there were two general approaches to writing a Will. Going to a solicitor, or writing your own Will on a piece of paper. These two approaches were diametrically opposite. A solicitor would be able to provide you with legal advice, and potentially write custom clauses in your Will, but the service would cost you several hundreds of pounds.
The option of going to a solicitor was not available to everybody either because of a lack of time, or an unwillingness to pay high fees to what was perceived to be a simple instruction. So many people attempted to write their own Will starting with a blank sheet of paper, and in general terms explain how they would want their estate to be distributed. The common belief was that writing at least something on a piece of paper, was better than dying without a Will.
In the mid to late 1990’s a number of blank form kits started entering the market. Available from shops like WHSmith the kits provided some structure to writing a Will, and at least guided the user through making some key appointments, and included the formalities of revoking previous Wills, and signing the new document.
You may have come to the conclusion that writing your Will with a solicitor is too expensive. You have thought that maybe you could write your own Will. But when you google the topic, “writing your own Will” leads you to all kinds of conflicting information. Eventually, you find information about the holographic Will, and have become totally confused.
Please allow us to help.
Background to the misinformation
The main source of confusion is of course the Internet. The problem is that laws pertaining to holographic Wills vary quite dramatically from one country to another. If you post to a law forum, to Quora or to Reddit, the whole World will want to chip in with an answer. The problem is that an answer coming from Canada, or the US, or from India, will not apply to UK law.
Here’s a great example. A question posted on uk.answers.yahoo
Hand-written Will. Is it Legal? Continue reading
“Why should I pay £24.95 for your service when there are free Will kits available everywhere?” . A reasonable enough question, so please allow us to explain.
In every high street in the UK we have seen a growth of the pound shop; Poundland, PoundWorld, Poundstretcher and just to shake it up; 99pLand.
But we all know that there are some things that you can buy with confidence from a pound store; notepads, desk organisers, colouring books, egg cups. And there are some things that you would probably think twice; smoke alarms, electricals, first aid supplies. I once saw a discount lifejacket in a pound shop. It didn’t feel right.
So how can we establish the value of a Last Will and Testament, when what appears to be the same product is available for £1,000 from a top solicitor. But also a free download from a website. Continue reading
Maybe a solicitor has quoted you a few hundred pounds to prepare your Will. Perhaps you are now considering whether you can write your own Will. You may be wondering “how hard can it be?”.
It’s entirely possible to write your own Will, but let us give you a few pointers.
Estate planning (the process of writing a Will) can be daunting. Many of us are prone to common, easily-avoided mistakes, if we get around to our Will at all. In fact, according to a report by the Legal services board, even solicitors who don’t specialise in estate planning frequently make mistakes with Wills.
The Law Society express concern that do-it-yourself Will services were eroding the Will writing business. They asked the government to protect Will writing. To make it a service that only solicitors can provide.
We know that most people have not written their Will. These people fall into two camps; the group who think it’s important, but haven’t got around to it yet, but hopefully they will write a Will at some time in the future. The second group are those who have the “why do I care? I’ll be dead anyway” approach. Although they’ve hopefully spent their life thinking of other people, they feel content simply letting their family and loved ones sort everything out once they are gone.
Unfortunately, they don’t understand that taking just 20 minutes now, can save their family from distress, acrimony, family feuds, and potentially expensive legal battles.
Surely I’m overstating the impact of not having a Will? Let me explain ten good reasons why you should write a Will today, based on our 15 years of experience in dealing with distraught family members whose loved one died without a Will in place.
How to write a Will at LegalWills.co.uk
Most people know that they need a Will, but according to recent statistics, as many as 30 million UK adults have not made a Will. According to this report; more than half of UK adults don’t have a Will, but only ten percent of those have not even considered it.
This report breaks down the numbers of people who do not have Will. Continue reading
If you step through the service at LegalWills.co.uk, you can create a legal Will for £24.95. However, if you use the following discount code, you’ll get twenty percent off. You can have a legal Will in your hands in about twenty minutes for less than twenty quid. Everybody needs a Last Will and Testament, so what on earth would stop anybody from doing this?
In reality though, we know that the price of the service at LegalWills.co.uk is not your barrier to preparing a Will.
Here’s some things that may be going through your mind that could stop you from writing your legal Will right now. Continue reading
Why do I need to pay to create a Will using your service, when I can get a free one downloaded from the internet, or buy a blank Will kit from WHSmith for a couple of pounds.
We get this question a lot, and it is sometimes difficult for people to fully understand the difference between using an online Will writing services like the one at LegalWills.co.uk compared to using a blank Will kit.
To illustrate the difference, we have highlighted just 20 ways in which using a blank Will kit can lead to a disaster. Because, ironically, the simpler the Will kit, the more difficult it is to write a well drafted Will. You may find it interesting that these were culled from an initial list of 45!!
1. You don’t check where the Will kit came from and who created it.
Before you download a free Will kit template, stop and think about who actually prepared the template. Nowadays anybody can set up a professional looking legal website for free using WordPress in about 2 hours. Continue reading
Most people know that they need a Will, but many are put off by the cost of going to a solicitor, and the inconvenience of booking an appointment. Unfortunately, this leads people to resort to some poorly judged approaches to preparing their own Will – we are often asked if we can provide somebody with a sample Will, from which they can draft their own Last Will and Testament.
There are a few steps to this process and trouble at each step of the way;
Locating a sample Will
For the people who don’t contact us asking for a sample Will, most will simply Google the search term “sample Will” in the hope that they can find a Will template Continue reading
Many people try to lead you into thinking that writing a Will is so complicated that only a qualified solicitor with years of training should attempt it. You have probably been told that attempting to write your own Will is only going to lead to misery for your loved ones. One of the most common scare-tactics is to compare writing a Will with performing surgery on yourself !
We have explained in the past that writing a Will is neither so complicated that it needs a professional, but nor is it so easy that you could just write one on a blank piece of paper. It is somewhere in between, and it is this mid-ground that LegalWills.co.uk tries to fill with its interactive online Will service.
So what makes a Will a Will?
The answer to this question hasn’t changed Continue reading
We’ve been offering a service to help you prepare your own Will for 14 years now. To us, the task couldn’t be simpler. But as with anything that you only do a few times in your life, the process can seem intimidating. So we’d like to breakdown the steps involved in writing your Will. Hopefully after reading these pointers, you will feel less anxious and ready to finally cross this very important item off your To Do list.
There are some important decisions to make before you start the process of writing your Will. Some of these require consultation with friends and family members. At LegalWills.co.uk we do not expect you to complete your Will in one sitting, but if you can discuss some of these decisions Continue reading
We always position our service as a happy mid-ground between expensive solicitor fees and the blank Will forms that you can download from the internet or buy from WHSmiths. The finished product of using an interactive online Will service is usually identical to a Last Will and Testament prepared by a solicitor. After all, a solicitor doesn’t write a Will starting with a blank sheet of paper, they use what are known as “Will precedents” or clauses that are historically established, and are known to work. Most solicitors actually use “Parker’s modern Will precedents” and this is the exact same reference book used by LegalWills.co.uk.
We’ve adapted the established Last Will and Testament clauses into an interactive online Will service. So how does the end result compare Continue reading
I’d like to start by defining some terms. An Online Will service allows you to step through an interactive interview on the internet, at the end of which a document is generated. This document should then be printed and signed in the presence of two witnesses to create a legal Last Will and Testament. There is no such thing as an “online Will” – any digitally stored or scanned document is not legally admissible to probate. A document created through an online Will service still needs to be printed and signed to make it legal.
A DIY Will Kit is a blank form kit that you might buy from Amazon, or WHSmiths. It is generally a form with some typed clauses and white spaces for you to handwrite your details. They sometimes come with a disk that lets you type in your answers.
This image is from a genuine Will kit that we purchased for £10 from a Continue reading
I don’t need a Will. It is obvious who will get my things anyway. Everything will go to my spouse.
We hear this a lot, and nothing could be further from the truth. The distribution of an estate without a Will (intestate law) is so complicated that the government websites have a question and answer wizard to step you through a number of different family situations. At the end of this they calculate the shares of the estate going to each person. So let us dispel a few myths.
Myth 1: If I die without a Last Will and Testament my spouse will receive everything.
Fact: This is actually true for the first £250k in value. But according to an article published this week in the Guardian, the average house price in England is £272k, with the average price in London now at £514k. The £250k threshold is no longer limited to the interests of the very wealthy. Everything above £250k is divided such that any children will take half, and the spouse will take a “life interest” in half, meaning that the children will receive that second half when the surviving parent dies. Continue reading