The Danger Of Online Wills

Given the current circumstances many of us may have a little more time on our hands than usual to mull over our futures and put plans in place to ensure our personal legal affairs are in order.

Online Wills are on offer all over the place and at a first glance it is easy to see why more and more people are preparing their Wills online.

As with most things in life, if it seems too good to be true it probably is. Verity Shepherd, Senior Legal Executive in the Wilkes Private Client Team, explores the risks with online Wills.

All that is usually involved in an online Will is completion of an online form with basic details, address and credit card details and your Will can be delivered to your door the next working day, or printed out almost instantly.

However, there are some significant pitfalls.  Not all Will writing companies are regulated. Solicitors and some Will writers however are regulated, subject to annual compulsory training and must have professional indemnity insurance. When a solicitor prepares your Will, you have peace of mind that the necessary safeguards are in place.

Online services usually do not offer advice on issues such as tax, businesses or overseas assets.  If you see your solicitor, they will take detailed instructions on what your estate includes. which means they can provide the advice you need. In addition, estate planning laws are constantly changing. Solicitors, as professionals, are required to stay on top of these changes so their advice should be up to date.  In the long run the ‘cheap’ online option could end up costing you a lot more than professional fees.

Trusts are often used in Wills to assist in areas such as protecting against spend thrift beneficiaries, taxes, marriage breakdown and bankruptcy. It is unlikely that online services will provide advice on whether trusts could assist you. Once again, the online service is therefore not tailored to your specific needs.  There are also risks with substandard drafting as what was intended by the Will may not be how the Will is interpreted.

A professional solicitor will also oversee the signing of the Will to ensure that it is executed in accordance with the relevant rules and not fail for falling foul of these rules.

Finally, online services do not verify the identity of their clients. How does the website know that the testator is who they say they are? Or that they have the requisite mental capacity to prepare a valid Will?  Solicitors are subject to strict money laundering obligations and therefore they must always know the source of their instructions.

The Private Client Team at The Wilkes Partnership Solicitors is a Legal 500 ranked team and one of the largest in the Midlands. Our legal specialists are on hand to help and are available for telephone/ video conferencing appointments to suit your requirements.

To book your appointment please email vshepherd@wilkes.co.uk or call us on 0121 733 4333.

Verity Lee, Lasting Power of Attorney Solicitor, Solihull, Birmingham,Midlands
Verity Shepherd

Senior Legal Executive, Private Client