Did you know that one in three adults aged over 55 in the UK don’t have a will? In UK law, you have to be 18 years old to make a will – but knowing what you need to include and how to write it is a different problem. There are different ways of getting one drafted, but if it isn’t done carefully, it can be the difference between a legally binding document and an invalid will. In this article, we are going to explain the difference between a will writing solicitor and a Will Writer and why it is better to hire a solicitor.
What is the difference between Will Writers and will writing solicitors?
When deciding on who to hire to write your will, you may come across two different types of will writing services – those provided by a solicitor and those provided by Will Writers. One of the main differences between the two is that by law, anyone can become a Will Writer but you must be a chartered lawyer to become a solicitor. A will written by a will writing service may not be as detailed as those written by a solicitor and they won’t be able to provide legal advice – this means that complications could arise for the heirs once the client has passed away. Whilst both options are perfectly feasible to write your will, there are some substantial, stress-relieving benefits of hiring a will-writing solicitor over a Will Writer.
The benefits of solicitors for will writing
It is completely up to you whether you hire a solicitor or a Will Writer. There is no right or wrong and both are credible ways of ensuring you have a will sorted before you pass away. When deciding who you should go with, it is important to consider the following benefits of hiring a solicitor for will writing before you begin the process:
The right questions are asked
A solicitor will be well-versed when it comes to writing a will, as they will have the knowledge and experience to provide advice. Important questions need to be asked to fully understand what is to be included in your will, particularly when it comes to property and the interests included in your estate. A lot of clients know what they want to include in their will, but aren’t sure how to get there. Solicitors are able to work closely with you to fully understand what you want to include in the will and are able to offer suggestions on how to achieve your aims. A solicitor should never influence your decision, only provide advice.
The will is drafted properly and will contain the correct wording
A will is a legal document, so must be written carefully and thoroughly with no room for error or misunderstanding. Unfortunately, there are many cases of a will being misunderstood even if it seems straightforward. Wills that have been worded poorly can end up causing stress and costing more for the heirs. If the will is contested, the fight could cost substantial legal fees which may leave little for the person or people inheriting the estate. Solicitors are able to word the will so there is no room for doubt and remove the threat of contestation.
Solicitors have extensive legal knowledge
Whilst this goes without saying, extensive legal knowledge is imperative when it comes to writing a will. Whether your will is simple or complex, seeking legal advice is always recommended. There are a number of instances that will definitely require a solicitor to be involved in the process:
- If there are children from a previous marriage involved.
- If you have investments or property outside the UK, there will be other legal systems involved.
- If you want to include a business you own in the will.
- If you’d like to set up a trust, for example, for heirs with disabilities.
If you don’t use a solicitor under these circumstances, it could lead to major legal problems for your heirs. A worst-case scenario is that your will may be deemed invalid. This means that the will won’t be followed by law or the estate may fall to an earlier version of the will (which may have been drafted a long time ago). Working through your will with your solicitor will give you peace of mind that your estate will be left to the right beneficiaries. Find out more about the rights of the beneficiaries.
Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
English and Welsh law states that anyone can write a will, but getting the will exactly right is vital to ensure it is legally valid and states everything that it needs to, without room for doubt or contestation. There is a very strict Code of Conduct provided by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) which all solicitors must follow through the will writing process. Will Writers don’t have this regulation.
Solicitors take into account family structures and complex finances
In some instances, the structures of families need to be taken into account. Whilst some families are of “married once with 2 kids” households which makes the process more simplistic, others may not have this structure or their finances are more complex (such as businesses, foreign assets, etc.). For example, if you have step-children and you want them to be included in the will, you will need the advice of a solicitor.
It is signed correctly
As we have alluded to before, a will is a legally binding document. When it is signed, it must be done so with two witnesses. This is because a will signing must be recorded to prove validity. Whilst anyone can witness the signing of a will, as long as they are 18 or over and are not related to the client, there are many legal requirements that must be adhered to, which a solicitor will be able to ensure. If it is signed and witnessed incorrectly, it will become invalid.
Some of the conditions of a signing include:
- The witness and client are in the same room for the entire process.
- The will is signed before death.
- It is signed with the correct date.
- Each witness must sign the will and witness each other sign it.
- The witnesses and their partners are not left anything in the will.
- Your normal signature should be used.
If these requirements are not met, the will becomes invalid and a will written earlier may be used instead, which could contain outdated information or not include certain people. A solicitor will ensure the signing is witnessed correctly and that there is no room for doubt.
Advice From Will Writing Solicitors
Writing a will ensures that your estate is left to the right people. It is also a legally-binding document that allows you control over where your assets go, particularly if you’re looking at foreign assets or complex family matters. Whilst you can choose either a solicitor or a Will Writer, solicitors provide extra protection and legal standing than those of a Will Writer. If you do choose a Will Writer, think carefully about who you choose and what protection they offer.
If you’re thinking of writing a will and need professional help, the team here at Beeston Shenton have a wealth of knowledge and experience in wills and probate law, so you can be ensured all wills are clear and concise, helping to avoid misunderstanding and disputes. Contact us today to get your will started. Alternatively, you can take a look at everything you need to know about making a will.