Research has shown that many people put off making a Will until they are at least 42 years old but 25% of people put it off even longer, waiting until they are 55 years old before making their first Will. By the time you are 42, you may own your own home and have a family of your own. This means that it is even more important to make your Will in these circumstances in order to protect your children and your property, so what are your options?
Once you have decided to make a Will, the next question to ask yourself is usually "how do I go about doing it?" As you would imagine, there are a number of options available to you:
Write a Will yourself – some people may feel that there is a financial saving to be made by doing it themselves. Other people may feel that writing a will is simple so it doesn't require professional advice or guidance.
A DIY Will kit – you can pick up a cheap DIY Will pack from many stationery shops for a small sum of money. This pack, in theory, gives you the tools to make your Will.
Professional Will Writing service – this is where you instruct a legal firm to discuss your circumstances and draft your Will for signing.
So How Do You Decide?
The answer lies within each person and their attitude towards risk taking. Making a Will may seem straightforward and it's certainly true that many people just need to put in place a standard Will. Unfortunately, unless you already know about what you can and can't do in a Will and you know what your options are, how do you know whether you require a straightforward Will?
Writing your own Will, without any form of professional advice, is a very risky approach to adopt. At Co-op Legal Services we administer many estates where the deceased wrote their own Will and from our experience it can create a whole host of problems. Common issues include:
- the Will being legally invalid
- the Will disposing of only part of the estate
- the clauses in the Will being legally ineffective because of wording that was used.
The second option is to follow the instructions in a Will writing pack, not much can go wrong, right? Unfortunately this is not the case and there are many things that can go wrong particularly around the invalid signing of the Will or the failure to properly understand the Will form or the simplicity of the form is unsuitable for the circumstances. Furthermore, by doing this yourself, there is a risk that if your wishes are challenged after your death that there is nobody independent who recorded that you were making decisions without any duress or undue influence being applied and that you had the mental capacity to make a Will.
Your next option is to use a professional Will Writing service to prepare your Will for you. You would usually book an appointment to discuss your needs and requirements. Once you have explored your options you would make your decision about how you want your estate to be divided. The will writer would then keep a record of your meeting and then prepare the draft of your Will for you to consider.
Using a professional Will writing service is going to cost you more upfront than the do-it-yourself options so you want to ensure that you are getting value. So what should you be expecting for your money?
Well, firstly, a significant benefit is 'peace of mind' by ensuring that you've explored your circumstances with someone experienced and that you are making sensible decisions.
Secondly, if you are planning on doing something irregular in your Will, then at least this should be flagged so you are making an informed decision and are aware of the possible consequences.
Thirdly, the cost of using a professional Will writing service is a small price to pay to give you a layer of protection against vexatious claims against your estate after you've died.
Fourthly, legal organisations regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, such as Co-op Legal Services Limited, must carry insurance so, if the Will is drafted incorrectly then your disappointed beneficiaries can be compensated. Clearly, if you write the Will yourself and get it wrong, there is no-one else to blame but you.
In addition, storage of your Will can also prove problematic when you have written the Will yourself. Where do you store it to ensure its absolutely safe in a fire-proof, flood proof, secure area and where your Will is always accessible and easy to locate? There are some businesses that charge for this service however the Co-op Legal Services offer free storage of your will for your lifetime when using our Will writing service.
It is really up to you whether you pay for a professional Will writing service or not, but you can see there are some very clear benefits to utilising these services. You wouldn't leave your home uninsured, so why would you leave your estate to chance when you die?
If you would like a free initial discussion about your circumstances and how we can help, please call our Will writers us on 03306069591 or contact us online and we will help you.