Our Guide to Writing a Will Online & If It's A Good Idea

Ian Lewis[1]

Ian Lewis

Money Savings Advice Writing a Will online

Writing a will online could be a great way of saving money. It’s often the cheapest way to write your will, though there are several risks to consider. Online wills may not always be valid in legal situations.

Online will writing is becoming increasingly popular. As people turn to the internet for shopping and working, they’re also happy to entrust their wills to the World Wide Web. There are many different ways to write a will online, and some are more sensible than others.

If you’re choosing to save money by writing your own will, or cut costs with an online service, you should be aware of potential risks and how you can make sure your will is valid.

Read on to discover more about the pros and cons of writing a will online.

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Ways to Write a Will Online

There are a few different things ways to write a will online. Some people think about downloading a template, whilst others look for something more professional. It helps to clarify what’s involved in an online will.

Draft a Will Online

You can draft your own will online. Often this involves an online template, or an online form that you can fill in. Once you’ve provided all essential details, this draft might be sent to a solicitor or will-writing team for review.

Drafting your will online, then submitting it for a review, could be one of your safest options. Writing a will isn’t easily, and one small mistake or vague description could mean that your will isn’t valid. By getting a professional to review your will, you should avoid any nasty situations where your will is worth nothing when you die.

Writing a will online is usually cheaper than getting it written in person. You can do some of the leg work yourself, making someone else’s job easier. That said, there’s always a risk that you’re sending your details to scammers.

To help you stay safe, check that your reviewer is a member of a group like the Society of Will Writers (SWW), the Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW) or the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.

Online templates

Many people use online templates to write their own DIY wills. These wills won’t be sent for review, so you must be sure that everything’s correct and you’ve provided all essential information.

Many people write DIY wills to save money. If there are mistakes, the writer may never find out. Mistakes may only come to light after your death, when your will isn’t valid and can’t be used to make decisions about your estate. By the time your will’s needed, it’s already too late to make changes or explain what you meant.

DIY wills might be free of charge, or the templates are cheap to buy online. This makes them tempting, but don’t be swept up in the chance to get your will at no cost.

When Should You Write Your Own Will?

Writing your own will is very risky, so it’s best avoided if you can afford to. Using a professional, like a solicitor, ensure that your will’s going to be valid.

If you want to write your own will, only choose this option if your situation is a simple one. Perhaps you want to leave everything to one person? A DIY will might work for you. If you want to start splitting your estate, or intend to have more than one recipient, you shouldn’t go down the DIY route and should seek more professional advice.

Risks of Making a Will Online

Aside from the fact that your will could have errors if you’ve written it yourself, there are other risks that you’ll need to consider when you’re making a will online. For a start, make sure that you’re using trusted companies and know where your information is going.

When you’re writing a will you may be providing many different personal details. In the wrong hands, the information you provide is a fast-track to identity theft. The will writing industry isn’t subject to full regulation at the moment, which means that you should be particularly careful to check any websites that you’re using.

Storing a Will You Make Online

If you make your will online, you’ll need to decide how you’re intending to store it. You’ll likely want to print it out, then store it as a physical copy. Storing your will online in your own home could be a problem if it’s damaged or lost, so you’ll probably want to look at other options like storing it with the Probate Service.

Keep a copy of your will at home in a safe place, and store another with the Probate Service. Storage prices start from just £20, so this won’t stretch your budget too far. To store your will, there are online forms that you can download and print.

Who Should Write Their Own Will Online?

Anyone 18 or over can write their own will, though not everybody should. Only write your own will if your situation’s simple and easy to put onto paper. Do you plan to leave all your worldly possessions to your spouse? A DIY will could save you money. Do you want to split your estate, or share it between multiple people? At the very least, choose online will writing where your will is reviewed by a professional.

Making a will online is not the right choice for everyone. Many people prefer to sit through a face-to-face conversation. Meeting in person makes it much easier to bounce ideas off one another. A solicitor can ask questions to delve deeper and learn more about what you really want to do with your possessions. Online, much of that back-and-forth conversation is removed from the picture.

Whilst some people hate the idea of making a will online, there are others that can see potential benefits. Making a will online is often cheaper and quicker, and potentially much more convenient – it’s not always easy to find the time to attend an appointment in person. It’s the speedier option, for younger people living in a fast-paced online world.

A will that’s written online, as long as it’s written properly, is just as valid as any other will. Of course, like all wills, it must be signed by two witnesses.

Getting an Online Will Witnessed

Once you’ve written your will, you’ll need a printed copy that’s been properly signed. Only written signatures will count – typed names online won’t be recognised as legal. In the UK, wills must be witnessed by two people.

When you’re sure that you’re happy with your will, print at least one copy to keep. Make sure that you sign it in the presence of your witnesses, then ask them to sign it as well. This is an important part of the process and makes your will legally binding.

Saving Money by Making a Will Online

If your situation’s simple and doesn’t need a lot of thought, an online will could help you save money. Why not read our guides to writing your will, and find out more about your will-writing options?

Should I Use a Solicitor for a Complicated Will?

There is no doubt that online wills are perfectly acceptable for those who have relatively straightforward uncomplicated financial affairs. This is a market which has grown significantly in recent times, although it is fair to say it does not accommodate all scenarios.

If you have relatively complicated financial affairs/personal relationships, then it may be sensible to approach a solicitor for assistance. The main problem is that any errors made with online wills, or those drawn up by individuals without legal assistance, may not become evident until it is too late.

In a worst-case scenario, if you do decide to draw up your own will and you have fairly complicated affairs, it may be sensible to ask a solicitor to look over it for you.

What Are the Most Common Mistakes When Creating Wills?

Unfortunately, those looking to create wills without legal guidance may leave themselves open to legal challenges. Some of the most common mistakes made when creating will include:-

  • Witnessed by a minor or named beneficiary/partner of a named beneficiary
  • Failing to update your will as your circumstances change
  • Amendments made in a way which are not legally binding
  • Missing assets from the estate summary
  • Failure to appoint an executor
  • Appointment of an inappropriate executor
  • Lacking full capacity

These are just some of the more common mistakes when writing your own will, which can have serious consequences further down the line. There is no doubt there is a time and place for DIY wills, but there is also a time and a place for legal assistance.

How Do I Change an Online Will?

Whether you prepare your will online or off-line, any changes will need to be signed by two witnesses. To change an online will, you would simply log onto your account, go to the relevant section, make the changes and then print a copy and get it signed by two witnesses. It is strongly advisable to destroy old wills as they can cause serious confusion if they were to emerge in the future.

Many people might assume that the issue of old wills is not worth considering - it is. Unless you destroy copies of your previous will, this could lead to legal challenges and significant issues going forward. Alternatively, when preparing a new will, many people now add a clause which makes previous wills null and avoid in the eyes of the law. Protect yourself!

How Do I Know My Will Is Legally Valid?

It is surprising how many people write their own wills only to find it is invalid because of various legal technicalities. In order for a will to valid, it must be:-

  • Made by a person aged 18 years or over
  • Written without pressure from any third parties
  • The person must be of sound mind
  • There must be a written copy of the will
  • Signed by the person making the will in the presence of two witnesses
  • Signed by two witnesses in the presence of the person making the will

When it comes to beneficiaries, a witness to the will cannot be a direct beneficiary or the partner/spouse of a beneficiary. Unless this scenario was rectified the beneficiary in question would not be eligible for any payment from the estate. If in doubt, ask a solicitor to look over your will to make sure it is legally binding.

How Can Money Savings Advice Help You With a Will?

Here at Money Savings Advice, we have partnered with one of the UK’s leading Will-writing companies, and they are members of The Society of Will Writers, and they have already helped thousands of our readers get the right Will in place.

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Money Savings Advice Author Ian Lewis

Ian Lewis

Ian Lewis is one of our specialist financial writers. Ian has over 15 years of financial writing experience, having worked for some of the largest financial publications in the UK covering topics from mortgages, equity release, loans and financial claims, to name a few.

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