Can you put your end-of-life plans into a sentence or two? If you can, you might be a good candidate for writing your own will. There are many cheap will writing kits and free downloads you can use, but ultimately these should only be for very simple cases.
Whilst there’s nothing stopping you writing a will for free, this should only be considered if yours is a straight-forward situation. It’s best to get professional help if you’re not sure exactly what you’re doing.
If your money is all in one place and you want it all to go to one person, you could probably make use of a free template for your will. Otherwise, you’ll want to pay for someone else to help.
Read on to find out more about writing wills for free, and whether it’s a good idea or not.
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Risks of Writing Your Own Will
Before you start to consider writing your own will for free, it’s important to understand the hazards of doing so.
Usually, it’s risky to write your own will free of charge. You need to be careful with the wording to make sure a will is legally binding, and one small mistake could mean that it’s not valid when it’s needed. Of course, by then it’s too late to make changes or clarify what you really meant.
Professionals can help you to get the wording right so that there’s no doubt or confusion. More than that, they can help you to think about things you’d never think to include. Whether there’s a pet that might outlive you or a strange clause in a contract, will writers and solicitors can help with prompts so that everything’s covered.
Can You Write a Will for Free?
Technically, anyone can write a will for free. Will writing isn’t a regulated industry, and there’s nothing to stop you from scribbling your own notes to say what should happen when you die. Of course, there’s a big difference between writing a will and writing one that’s actually useful.
If you’re going to write a DIY will, you should make sure that you know what you’re doing. You’ll need to get the wording right, cover the right things and make sure that you don’t miss important details. If there’s something you miss out, then you won’t have any say in what happens to it.
If you want to write your own will for free, you can find cheap will kits in stationery stores or download a template online. If your situation’s simple, this could be enough to create a useful end-of-life document. If you’re dealing with complexities, you’ll definitely want to get someone else to look over it.
What if You Make a Mistake With a DIY Will?
If you make a mistake with a DIY will, there’s a good chance you’ll never find out. That’s not to say that the mistake won’t be a problem, but that it won’t become a problem until after your death when it’s already too late to fix it.
If your will’s confusing, or if important details are missing, then the decision might be made to treat your will as though it doesn’t exist. This means that you will technically be dying intestate, with no say over what happens to your property or money.
Storing a DIY Will
Usually, solicitors will offer storage for your will. Some will apply a small extra charge, whilst others will do this at no cost. They’ll give you a copy to take home, then send a copy away to be kept somewhere safe. Alternatively, they might store you will securely within their own business premises. If you’re writing your own will, give some careful thought to where your will is going to be stored.
You have the option to keep your will at home, which again costs absolutely nothing. Of course, this option comes with risks. You could lose your will in a fire or flood, or it could be accidentally damaged or thrown away during spring cleaning.
You can store you will with the Probate Service for as little as £20. To do this, there are forms to download and submit.
Alternatives to Writing Your Own Will
If you don’t want to write your own will, but would prefer not to pay for a solicitor to write your will for you, then there are several other options.
A solicitor might charge around £200 for a simple will, so even if you’re not writing a will for free there’s still some scope for saving money.
Look out for charity agreements. In some cases, a solicitor will write your will for free if you make a donation to charity.
You don’t always have to donate straight away, instead agreeing to put your donation into your will when it’s written. This could be a good way to halve the cost of getting your will written up, or to delay any costs until after your death.
March and October are Free Wills Months, with more of these offers available, though you can always check with your favourite charities to see if they offer this service.
Cheaper Solicitors and Will Writers
You could look for cheaper solicitors and low-cost will writing services. Always look for a reputable service, since the industry isn’t regulated.
Anyone could set up a will writing service. If you’re looking for great prices, check that you’re choosing a company you’ve already heard of. If that’s not possible, look for solicitors with a reassuring physical presence, like an office that you can visit or a listing through Companies House.
Remember that customer reviews of a will writer can’t always be trusted – because how will you be able to leave a review when the will is actually used?
DIY Will Reviews
Some solicitors will let you cut costs by reviewing a will that you’ve written. You can download a DIY template online, or get one from a local shop. Once you’ve written your will, take it in for a review to make sure there are no glaring errors.
A DIY will review isn’t always possible, as it can be just as difficult to edit as it is to start afresh.
If you want to write your own will but check that it’s valid and usable, why not see if a local solicitor will review it once it’s complete? You can use a DIY will template, then get someone else to check what you’re written.
Insurance Small Print
Some types of home and life insurance come with a free will-writing service. This might not be immediately obvious, so take time to look through the paperwork. Free wills are a benefit of some insurance policies. They could help you to save a little money if you’re already paying your premiums.
Who Can Write Their Own Will?
To write your own will, you must be 18 or over and considered to be of sound mind. You’ll need to write your will and sign it in the presence of a witness. Make sure your will states that it replaces all previous versions, including the date so that everyone knows exactly when these wishes were expressed.
Quick Wills & Probate FAQs
How Can Money Savings Advice Help You With a Will?
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Choosing an independent adviser means they won’t recommend a scheme unless they are sure it is in your best interests. Their advice is also regulated by the FCA, which gives you an additional layer of protection.
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