Should you write a Will with a solicitor or without one? Get the ultimate pros and cons guide

As one of North London’s most established professional Wills and Probate specialists we often come across the subject of DIY Wills when talking to people at events and social clubs.

Many people do not like the idea of paying the associated legal costs with preparing a Will, but are understandably nervous about the implications of writing their own Will and where this could leave their beneficiaries if they make a mistake.

So what are the real issues around writing your own Will? Do you really need a solicitor or can you get the same job done for a fraction of the cost elsewhere?

Which pitfalls do you really need to consider and how can you be sure that the service you are receiving is the best value and the advice correct?

The truth about free will writing

Writing a Will for free is possible but you should be aware that even the simplest mistake can lead to problems for your beneficiaries, so only do it if you are very confident.

If you go down this route you must take responsibility for the outcome. Any legal problems that crop up or challenges made by other parties could result in lengthy and expensive complications.

There are a number of free Will templates available online, or for a small fee from places like WH Smiths.

These provide you with a simple template that lets you make your wishes known. If you only have a small number of things to bequeath after your death and you are sure that there are absolutely no complicated circumstances then this might be the most cost effective solution.

We do not recommend attempting this route if any of these circumstances apply to you:

  • You own your own business

  • You have children from previous relationships

  • Your estate (including property) is worth more than £325,000

  • You have children or dependents less than 18 years of age

Remember that any spelling mistakes can result in the Will being declared void and above all ensure that it states clearly at the start of the Will that this latest Will supersedes all previous Wills made.

Solicitors and the common pitfalls when it comes to a Will

Broadly speaking your Will needs to do five things. It must name your executors; distribute your assets; provide details of guardianship for children under 18; provide details of any Trusts; and address any potential Inheritance Tax issues.

A solicitor is trained in legal matters and most High Street law firms will provide you with a Will. However, remember that not all solicitors are experts in this field.

If your affairs have the potential to become complicated after your death then you should seek the advice of a specialist.

Unfortunately there are a number of common misconceptions about Wills, often perpetrated by TV dramas.

Anyone who saw the actor David Tennant in Broadchurch recently might have been surprised when he asked a top criminal barrister to write his Will for him.

We certainly were!

On the whole solicitors all choose to specialise in key areas of the law so make sure you choose one with a good background in Wills and Probate matters.

A good place to check is the Society of Will Writers; they will be happy to provide you with a list of professional Will writers who subscribe to their code of conduct.

Get your Will written now

Above all the most important thing is that you are addressing this issue now. It is a subject many people try to avoid and put off as much as possible.

Unfortunately we see the effects of this every day. People and families are left to cope at a time of great stress with all of the complicated, lengthy and difficult legal processes, often stuck in a financial void as they are unable to access their money while the probate process drags on.

Even worse is when we see a family’s money being distributed to people against the deceased wishes; all because they didn’t have a Will in place.

If you wish to discuss any of these issues in more detail please send us an email to info@hillmanlegal.co.uk or call us on the number above. A member of our team will be happy to help you.