It’s true that writing a Will of any kind is better than having no Will at all. But if you choose a “free” Will, make sure you understand all the hidden costs. Your “free” Will may well end up costing you more than a solicitor’s fees, and certainly much more than a DIY Will Kit ever would!
“Free” Wills are almost never actually free. If they are, you take the risk that they are not valid, not up-to-date or that they may not be applicable to where you live or where your assets are located.
The “free” Wills offered by trustee or insurance companies normally involve writing and executing your Will for free while you’re alive, but charge your estate after you die! They usually do this by requiring you to nominate them as executor or trustee of your estate and then taking a fee for these services. This is often a set fee plus a percentage of your assets when they distribute your estate.
Before accepting a “free” Will, check, the costs and charges that will be levied, both immediately and once you pass away. Then make certain you have the ability to both amend your Will as and when you wish, as well as choose your own executors. If you’re not satisfied, shop around to see what is available and the costs involved.
Consider writing your own Will
You’ll probably find that you’ll lose a large percentage of your assets to cover the fees that are involved with a “free” Will. In which case you may be better off either using a Will Kit or contacting a solicitor if your financial affairs are complex.
It’s not difficult to do your own Will and there are lots of Will Kits out there on the market. Unless you have a complex situation with, for example, mixed families, overseas properties or ownership of a business with partners, you should not have difficulty writing your own Will.
You should at least try to have something in place until you can get around to a more formal arrangement. The courts will try and uphold your wishes as closely as possible, even if there are problems with the Will you write. In addition, you can always make changes to your Will along the way as your circumstances change.
If you have already written your Will and it is signed and witnessed but you want to change your executors or add gifts or beneficiaries, you don’t have to re-write your Will. Just make any additions or changes by using a Codicil. A Codicil is an easy and quick way to amend your Will and is executed in the same manner as your Will (with two witnesses to your signature).
Whatever way you choose to write your Will, ensure you have something in place today! You never know what may happen to you, so protect your assets and your loved ones.
For more information, check out our guide to How to Write a Will