Cut the cost of making a Will
It’s easy to find someone who will make a cheap will for you. But be careful. A cheap will may not be a good will. if your circumstances are complex, you should ensure you use a professional solicitor-based service. Cheap wills are often used like a ‘sprat to catch a mackeral’ – because there are potentially much greater sums of money involved down the line. Here is a guide as to what you should expect to pay:
Quick Price Guide
- DIY will forms or kits: £5-£20 (not individually checked, NOT recommended)
- Will-writers, online forms: £10-50 (Checked by Will-writer, not solicitor)
- Solicitor-based online willmaking £35-70 (Checked by Solicitor or legal executive) RECOMMENDED for non-complex wills. To see an example, try The Will Site – they have a starting price of £34.95.
- Will-writers home visits: £70 upwards
- Solicitors personal service: £100 upwards – RECOMMENDED for complex wills
For couples, expect to pay around half price for the second ‘mirror’ will.
Note: The costs vary considerably across the country. In London, Manchester, Birmingham and other cities, the costs are considerably more, and if you do not use a solicitor which specialises in Wills and Probate – or ‘family law’, then you could unnecessarily pay far more. Using a firm promoting itself on the Internet will enable you to get a good price regardless of where you live.
Complex wills should be dealt with at a face-to-face meeting with a solicitor and can cost £200-£300 or more, and if this is your situation, it is actually money well spent.
The DIY will
Our advice is simple. Don’t do it yourself.
Some people are tempted to buy will-making forms at a local stationers. It’s easy to think that it’s simply a matter of writing your name on the will-making form, adding your intended beneficiary, then signing it. But you’ll find that these seemingly simple forms are actually chunky packs with pages of small print, explanation and caveats that could take you hours to ponder.
These forms are intended for simple wills. Many people soon realise that what they thought was a simple will, rapidly becomes complex. The danger is that people can overlook some matter, or make a mistake, or fail to go through the correct process to sign the will. Getting something wrong can result in either your estate being distributed differently from your intention – or worse still, rendering the will completely invalid, so that the estate is distributed according to the letter of the law.
If a DIY will results in problems – they have to be sorted out by those you leave behind. Ironically, its more than likely that the people you love most are the ones who will bear the pain of any arguments, and indeed they also lose out because of legal fees which can be substantial if the disagreements cannot be easily resolved.
There is a joke that some solicitors love people who make DIY wills – because solicitors make much more money sorting out a badly-written will. There’s a lot of truth in it. For instance a lawyer might charge £120 for a will, but twice that for every hour they spend when a will is contested.
Many will-making firms provide an excellent service, but you should know that the qualifications needed to become a will-writer can be no more than a two-day course.
If you chose a will-writer you may find some use marketing techniques such as persistent phone-calls as well as cross-selling services such as funeral plans and pre-paid probate services. Sometime will-writers ask you if they may contact other people in the will in order to sell them services too.
Using a solicitor
A solicitors probate office is usually run by a qualified solicitor or legal executive – either of which will undergo years of training. But there can be no absolute guarantee for good service.
Meeting face-to-face with a local solicitor is important if your affairs are complex.
Should you buy a will online?
Online will-making services vary tremendously, but can provide an excellent and economical option. A service run by a solicitor ensures that the Law Society guidelines are adhered to. Ensure that the small print tells you that your will is individually checked by a solicitor or legal executive – rather than being sent to you unchecked.
Where your will is not complex, this is a very economical method, since you are inputting the data, and saving the time and money of a professional. It does mean, however, that what you type is what you get, so check it carefully. Some services allow you to down-load a will while others provide a bound will by post.
A good online service will clearly spell out what can and can’t be dealt with online, and such a service may tell you they can’t help.
All these services rely on you following the instructions to sign your will in the correct way – so follow the instructions carefully.