Most UK adults do not have a Will. It’s unfortunate because every adult needs a Will and you shouldn’t wait until some time in the future. A Will should be written whilst you are young, and updated throughout your life. Fortunately, now there are great options to make a Will online.
Traditionally, making a Will was an expensive and inconvenient process. It involved booking an appointment with a solicitor, co-ordinating schedules with a spouse or partner, and then making a follow up appointment for the document signing. The process was also expensive costing several hundreds of pounds to prepare the Will, and several hundreds more every time the document had to be updated.
If you are very lucky, you may be able to find a solicitor who will visit you at home. But this can still be intrusive, and this approach makes it difficult to update your Will over time.
What is an online Will service?
It is important to understand that there is no such thing as an online Will. The law requires a Last Will and Testament to be on a piece of paper, and signed in the presence of two witnesses. Any Will that has been created online must be printed and signed.
Even though we live in a very connected World, the law does not accept an uploaded, scanned, photocopied, faxed or otherwise digitised document. It is possible that if the original was accidentally lost or destroyed, a copy could be considered by the courts, but this is a long convoluted process and not recommended as a plan.
It’s a pity, because paper Wills get lost all the time, particularly with natural disasters or house fires. A Will can theoretically last you for your entire life, but pieces of paper generally deteriorate over time. But this is the law that we have today.
An Online Will service is an interactive tool that allows you to step through a series of questions, on your computer, tablet or smartphone. You are guided through the process of preparing your Will. At the end, your document is compiled and must then be downloaded and printed. The final step to make it a legal document is that it must be signed in the presence of two witnesses. These witnesses can be any two adults who have nothing to gain from the contents of the Will (a witness cannot receive an inheritance from the Will).
How do you make a Will online?
There are essentially four steps to preparing a Will online.
Find a Will service provider
You must find a service provider with a complete and affordable service. There are a number of solid Will services available today, ranging in price from about £25 to about £100. We have provided a complete overview of different Will services providers in a previous blog article.
Most of them you can try out before committing to paying and using their service. You should get a feel for the ease of use, applicability to your situation (based on the questions being asked), but also look at customer support options and pricing.
You should also make sure that there are no ongoing subscriptions that need to be cancelled, and that you can update your Will whenever your circumstances change.
You should also avoid any service that advertises itself as “free”. A free Will service can only be offered in one of three ways;
- It has not been created by legal professionals, and so the final documents may not work
- The service is advertised as free, but you have to give your credit card details and you are tied into an ongoing subscription unless you cancel (which is deliberately difficult to do).
- Your personal information is sold onto third parties like funeral homes and insurance agents.
If a service is able to create a quality legal document, and supported by development, legal and customer support staff, it cannot be a free service.
Work through the Will service
Different online services try to appeal to prospective customers by minimising this step; telling you that you can create a Will in 15 minutes, 10 minutes, even 8 minutes. You shouldn’t be lured into using the fastest service.
Your Last Will and Testament is a very important document, perhaps the most important document that you will ever write. It will provide all of the instructions for distributing your lifetime’s accumulation of wealth.
It is important for this document to be complete, unambiguous, and it must cover every possible scenario. It is simply impossible to prepare this in 8 minutes.
Some people takes weeks or even months to complete their Will, and this is fine. You must select an Executor, and possibly a Guardian for your children. This decision usually involves consultation with family and loved ones.
If you make a Will at LegalWills.co.uk you are guided through 10 main sections, some of these have subsections.
- Personal Details
- Family Status
- Names of family members
- Other Beneficiaries
- Guardians for Minor Children
- Distribute your Possessions
- Trusts for Young Beneficiaries
- Forgive Debts
- Next Steps
Distributing your Estate
Within the section of Distributing your Possessions, there are as many as 7 subsections dealing with Bequests to Charities, Pet Trusts, Specific Bequests, Alternate Plans, and your Residual Estate.
Some people can work through this section quite quickly. If you are leaving your entire estate to your spouse, and then, if you are both involved in a common accident, dividing the estate between your children, then it will not take long to complete the distribution of your estate section.
But you may with to consider charitable bequests, and you may have to give some thought to the care of a pet.
The section is often more difficult for people not in a relationship, or without children. The distribution of your estate is not obvious in this case, and there may be many more beneficiaries, and many more divisions of the estate.
We enjoyed the story of Roger Brown who left £3,500 for his mates down the pub, specifically for them to enjoy a “boozy weekend in a European City” in his memory.
Your Will allows you to show this type of creativity.
Download and Print your Will
Once you have stepped through the ten sections of our service, your document is compiled. You can then download it as a PDF document or Word document to be printed.
If you don’t have access to a printer, then you can email it to yourself, or save it to a memory stick. You can then access it from any other computer for printing.
We also have a service to print your Will for you. Most people don’t need this service, but it is there if you need it. We will print it, put it into a presentation folder and post it to your home.
Sign your Will
Your document is not a legal document until it is signed in the presence of two witnesses. This is a critical step.
Your witnesses can be any two adults who are not beneficiaries in the Will. But your witnesses do not have to be of any particular professional standing. They can be friends, neighbours or co-workers, they do not need to be a solicitor or magistrate.
Once the document is signed, dated and the two witnesses have signed, it becomes a legal document. Any previous Wills are automatically revoked (cancelled).
You then store the document in a safe place, somewhere that is known and accessible to your Executor. There is no requirement to “register” the Will (nor is there any official place to register a Will). It is only after you have passed away that the Will is registered with the probate courts.
Some people simply give the document to their Executor in a sealed envelope. This ensures that they will have it when they need it.
Remember to Keep your Will updated
One of the reasons that you don’t register your Will after it is signed, and the reason there is no official service to do this, is that it doesn’t make sense. Your Will should not be written once in your lifetime. It is a document that should be written whilst you are young, and updated throughout your lifetime when your personal or financial circumstances change.
Your Will is not only updated when your circumstances change, but also anybody named in your Will.
Your Executor may no longer be the best appointment. One of your beneficiaries may have won the lottery. You may now have grandchildren. You may want to include a charity in your Will now that they have become an important part of your life.
There are countless reasons why you may want to update your Will. At a minimum you should review your Will every couple of years to make sure that it still reflects your circumstances and current thinking.
If you need to update your Will, at LegalWills.co.uk you can simply login to your account, make the change and print a new Will.
Make a Will right now
It really is easy to make a Will. The most difficult part is getting started. But everybody knows that it’s a critical document, and the sense of relief in finally getting it done is enormous. Click the button below to get started.
Tim Hewson is one of the founders of LegalWills.co.uk.
He has over 20 years of experience helping people to write their Will and other estate planning documents. He has been interviewed by many of the major news media outlets and has contributed to articles in most leading publications. He has also contributed to a number of financial planning books.
Throughout his career, Tim has written extensively on the subject of Will writing and estate planning.
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