Can you write your own will?
Despite being one of the most important legal documents most of us will ever create, you do not need a solicitor to make a will. You can write it yourself, or there are many unregulated businesses offering will-writing services. However, before choosing one of these options, it’s worth considering why you are making a will in the first place. For most of us, the answer is simple. We want to protect our loved ones and ensure our wishes are respected after we die. With so much at stake, is it worth taking risks?
Writing wills can be complex. Doing it yourself or using an unregulated will writer can result in mistakes being made that could leave your will open to challenges or render it completely invalid. Indeed, as a result of increasing concerns over the poor quality of work produced and a lack of transparency regarding their costs, The Government’s Competition and Markets Authority has recently announced that it is investigating unregulated will-writing services. Using a solicitor is the only way to ensure your will has been prepared by a regulated, insured, and professionally trained expert.
When drafting wills, solicitors use certain and specific wording to set out your wishes with clarity, leaving no room for misinterpretation by your executors or inviting challenges to be made against your estate. There are sometimes technical considerations that can dictate your will’s contents. There are also benefits of succession and tax planning. Certain provisions may be required in your will to maximise the available tax allowances and reliefs. This ensures your estate does not pay more inheritance tax than it needs to.
In the UK, you are free to leave your estate to whomever you wish; however, there are expectations for certain classes of beneficiaries, and a solicitor is best placed to advise you of any potential issues that could arise on your death.
Are do-it-yourself wills legal?
Whilst it is legal to write your own will, that does not guarantee that it will be legally valid. There are specific formalities and wording required for a will to be valid and it is easy to miss something that could result in your will being invalid. If your will is not legally valid, the law will apply the intestacy rules. These rules will decide who is responsible for administering your estate and which beneficiaries receive your property and money. Unfortunately, those beneficiaries may not be the friends and family whom you intended to benefit.
Are will writers regulated?
Will writers are not regulated, which means, unlike solicitors, they need no training, qualifications, or professional indemnity insurance to operate. As the UK’s competition watchdog’s investigation highlights, this has resulted in wills being produced that are not fit for purpose. To make matters worse, without professional indemnity insurance, there are often limited options customers or their families can pursue when things do go wrong.
Are will writers as good as solicitors?
Whilst some will writers may provide a good service, they do not have the same standard of training or qualifications as a solicitor. Being unregulated, will writers are not required to complete any training or qualifications. In contrast, to become a solicitor, you must complete an undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification, parts 1 and 2 of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam, and two years of qualifying work experience – a process that typically takes at least six years. Alongside these qualifications, prospective solicitors must meet the character and suitability requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
If you would like the peace of mind of knowing your will has been prepared by a regulated, insured, and professionally trained expert, Scott Bailey’s highly skilled Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors are here to help. Drawing on their extensive experience, our team can assist you in drafting even the most complex of wills, ensuring your loved ones are protected and your wishes will be respected. Contact us today to get started.