Over recent years, online Will writing services and DIY Will kits have become widely available. Such services can be completed instantly and at a low cost which can be very appealing.
There are, however, a number of pitfalls in preparing a Will using an online service or a DIY Will kit, some of which are outlined below.
No specialist advice
Such organisations are unlikely to provide you with comprehensive and specialist advice. Particular legal rules apply in Scotland and it is imperative that you are made aware of these prior to preparing your Will.
Preparing a Will may appear very straightforward, but there are various matters which require to be taken into consideration such as your financial circumstances, family circumstances and your wishes. The advice that you receive from a solicitor will vary widely depending on these factors. For example, specialist advice may be given to you in relation to legal rights, Inheritance Tax, general estate planning including lifetime trusts and consideration of care costs, Powers of Attorney etc. This can cover complex scenarios that your solicitor can assist with and implement accordingly.
By instructing a solicitor, you will receive a more comprehensive service tailored to your individual needs which will ensure that the best results are achieved in line with your wishes.
Will writing is an unregulated market
This means organisations that create DIY Will kits or offer online Will writing services do not require to have any legal qualifications. In addition, any protection offered by such organisations should anything go wrong could be extremely limited or non-existent. For example, DIY Will writing organisations will not take responsibility if your Will is incorrectly completed.
On the other hand, solicitors have the necessary legal qualifications and expertise to assist. Solicitors in Scotland are regulated by the Law Society of Scotland. Firms of solicitors require to have professional indemnity insurance which offers protection to individuals. You are unlikely to have the same safeguards in using another service to complete your Will.
Who you instruct to prepare your Will is therefore a crucial consideration. Wills are legally binding documents that can be invalidated by a simple error. Although you are not obliged to instruct a solicitor, it is vital that your Will is correctly drafted. Using a solicitor should provide you with peace of mind and confidence.
It is easy to make a mistake when preparing a Will. A simple mistake could potentially lead to your Will being invalid. In this instance, your estate would be distributed according to intestate legislation in Scotland. What you set out to achieve in your Will could therefore be completely disregarded. DIY Will kits are particularly high risk given that these are completed on your own. Using an online Will writing service carries risk as although you might have the option for your Will to be checked over, the individual doing so does not require to be legally qualified.
Your Will could be more at risk of being challenged
The validity of your Will could be more at risk of being challenged if you utilise a DIY Will kit or online Will writing service for three main reasons. Firstly, there is no legally qualified individual assessing your capacity. Secondly, you may be a vulnerable individual who is coerced into signing a Will. Thirdly, the terms of your Will could be too vague.
Any challenge to the validity of your Will can result in lengthy delays and significantly increased costs which in turn will reduce the value of your estate.
These are just some of the difficulties that may arise in utilising an online Will writing service or a DIY Will kit. There are fundamental limitations and protections in using such organisations.
We strongly recommend that you seek advice from a qualified solicitor if you are in any doubt and are planning to prepare a Will. Our Private Client team are available to assist you.