In previous articles, we have looked at the cost of cheap and DIY Wills. So, if you decide to hire someone to write your Will, what should you look for?
1. Check the small print.
We would advise that when choosing a Will-writer, you check there are no hefty charges referred to in the small print.
A cheap Will today could end up costing your loved ones thousands of pounds when you’re gone. It is vital to look out for hidden costs in the terms and conditions.
- Check that the Will-writers do not automatically appoint themselves as the executors (the people who sort out the finances) and charge a percentage of the estate.
- Check probate reselling is not referred to. The Will-writer may offer to carry out the probate (the legal and financial processes involved in dealing with the assets) but put in their small print that they ‘reserve the right to outsource it’. They are then likely to outsource it to another provider (and those inheriting have no say) and take their cut. This tends to lead to significant overpayment and deplete funds in the estate.
- Check for other hidden costs, such as the annual storage or retrieval fees, which could run into the hundreds of pounds.
2. Consider a Will-writer which is part of a recognised body.
Unfortunately, Will-writing is not currently regulated. Choosing a Will-writing service which is part of a recognised body may offer some protection, including indemnity insurance.
Check that the service belongs to one of these organisations:
- The Society of Will Writers
- The Institute of Professional Will Writers
- Solicitors Regulation Authority (if solicitors)
Members of these organisations must:
- Have training that’s regularly updated
- Be insured to cover legal costs if your will is challenged, and
- Follow a code of practice approved by the Trading Standards Institute
If you use a will writing service from your bank, you should still check for membership of one of these two organisations – writing wills is not covered by the same regulations as bank accounts or investments.
In one case, a daughter claimed a cheap Will by a bank cost her ‘half her house’ because a ‘simple formality’ was neglected.
The Will-writing service of the bank was not regulated and The Financial Ombudsman Service concluded that the matter was outside of the scope of its service."
3. Consider its safeguards
Contested Wills are on the increase and some can go on for years, making the assets untouchable. We also suggest you ask your Will-writer how they can make your Will more watertight.
It is also important that a Will-writing service provider assesses and records the Testator’s capacity (person making the will) to ensure the Will is valid.
4. Inheritance Tax
Your estate could be liable to Inheritance Tax but this can be reduced or mitigated with advance planning. Ask your provider how they could help you with this.
5. Consider the bigger picture
If you have children or dependents, perhaps the one of the most important parts of writing a Will is to name guardians – otherwise they could end up in the care of the local authority.
And did you know that your children could lose out on their inheritance if a surviving partner were to remarry?
Were you aware that if you marry or remarry it revokes a Will?
A professional specialising in End-of-Life planning can take a look at the bigger picture and help you to plan accordingly.
At Kinherit, we have a team of highly trained specialists to provide you with bespoke solutions. Certain members are also trained to cover more complex situations, such as where business or agricultural assets are involved.