Talking about making a will isn’t always a comfortable subject. However, the stark reality is that at some point we will all die. Furthermore, when instructions aren’t put into place on how to distribute our assets after our death, this can cause unnecessary stress and strain for all those left behind.
Once you’ve realised you are yet to make a will or perhaps need to update an existing will, all that’s left to do is figure out the cost of doing so.
The price of getting a will drawn up is going to depend on the complexity of your estate, along with the type of will writing service you opt for. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
Do You Need A Will?
The short answer is yes, you do need a will. Although, it might surprise you to know that only 4 in 10 UK adults currently have one.
Some of the most common reasons as to why people don’t have a will include the belief they have ‘nothing to leave’. Or the assumption that their assets will automatically be passed to their partner when they die.
However, these kinds of misconceptions surrounding wills couldn’t be further from the truth in many cases. For instance, if you are not married but have a partner, they do not have any automatic legal right to your estate, and could even be made homeless if you solely own the property you currently live in. Likewise, some people separate and forget to remove their previous spouses from their will. This is only scratching the surface of what can go wrong if you don’t have a current, up to date will in place.
The situation surrounding wills can be so complex, not to mention devastating in the UK, that many legal experts are calling for wills to become compulsory once someone turns eighteen. In the meantime, it is strongly recommended that anyone who doesn’t have a will makes one, especially if they have any children or grandchildren. This includes those who may be heading towards or are already in retirement, like many of our readers here at Retirement Expert.
Even for those who don’t have any dependents to leave their estate to, without a will, your assets will be passed onto your nearest blood relatives. If these cannot be traced, your assets will appear on the unclaimed estates list. If nobody comes forward to claim your estate, it will eventually be transferred to the Treasury. So in any case, it’s well worth making a will so you can have a say on how your assets will be distributed after you die.
How Much Is A Will Cost?
The cost of making a will varies on how you go about doing so, along with the complexity of the estate. In general, wills can cost anything from nothing at all up to £700.
On the cheaper end of the scale, free will writing services exist, although the integrity of such services does need to be double-checked. This includes free will templates you can find on the internet.
A middle-of-the-range price for making a will is between £50 and £100, and this is for will writing services. How it works is that someone will construct the will on your behalf, but the service provider may not hold any legal qualifications. In general, will writing is not a regulated market which is the reason why this option is far cheaper than having a will drawn up by a legal professional.
The most expensive and watertight option for writing a will is to go through a solicitor. This can cost anywhere from £250 to £700 on average. The price fluctuation very much depends on the experience of the solicitor combined with the complexity of the will.
In some instances, solicitors will also offer a free will writing service, although you’ll need to read the small print to rule out any catches.
How Much Does It Cost To Amend A Will?
If you have written your own will, then you may wish to update its contents yourself. So long as you can write and print your will, making sure to sign and date it, the costs involved are minimal.
For professional will writers, their typical fee for new wills is around the £100 mark. So when it comes to making changes, they may insist on writing a will from scratch to cover their time, or they may allow for a small edit fee, depending on how many edits need to be made to your will.
Solicitors charge anywhere from £100 to £500 to amend an existing will. Remember though, that a solicitor is going to be incredibly thorough with their edits. They will also look out for regulations that may have changed since your will was originally written. The process will involve ascertaining why you want to update your will, ensuring that you are not being coerced so that everything is ethical and legally sound.
When Should You Update A Will?
To put it simply, you should update your will whenever your existing will is no longer representative of your final wishes. Although it’s easy to associate family disagreements with why someone is removed from a will, you may also have new additions to the family you want to include also. Or, there may be changes to your estate that need to be factored in to reduce inheritance taxes, among many other reasons.
If in doubt, consult a solicitor to gain advice on whether a change to your will is needed or not.
Can You Make A Will For Free?
Yes, although if a will is free, this will likely mean it hasn’t been vetted by a solicitor. If so, this could leave your will open to interpretation. However, as noted, solicitors will on occasion offer a free will writing service too.
October Free Wills Month
October is the official month for free wills. Organisations such as Mind can arrange for a free single or joint will to be drawn up by a solicitor at any time during the month. This offers a more robust option for those who cannot afford the solicitor’s fees, and who don’t want to risk writing their own will.
Can I Write My Own Will?
Technically, yes you can write your own will. For those who cannot afford to write a will through a solicitor, or perhaps don’t know about free will writing services, this could be an ideal option.
However, caution should be applied as unless your estate is straightforward, your will may not stand up if challenged legally. Also, it may be difficult to prove it is you who wrote your will, and that you were of sound mind, depending on any health conditions that may arise towards the end of your life.
Therefore, writing your own will should be a last resort rather than a first option. At the very least, you should have a solicitor check over it for you.
Benefits Of Making A Will
Still need some convincing that the cost of having a will drawn up is worth it? Here are some of the top benefits to consider, that won’t be applicable if you don’t have a will in place when you die.
∎ Get Instant Peace Of Mind
But by setting the time aside to make your final wishes known, it creates instant peace of mind, since everything will be distributed as intended once you are no longer here. For your family, knowing that all the plans have been put in place can be a huge relief.
∎ Reduce Potential Hassles For Your Family
The previous point offers a great segway here, seen as its your family and any other beneficiaries that will be the recipients of your estate.
Sadly, when wills are not in place or have not been checked by a legal professional, this creates huge potential for conflict. All of which is not only hugely upsetting, but unnecessary too, seen as wills eliminate any room for error with just one piece of paper.
∎ Reduce Impact Of Care Fees On Your Estate
Drawing a will up with a solicitor means they will be able to advise on the best tax and inheritance breaks. This includes reducing the impact of care fees on your estate, which you may not benefit from if you don’t draw up a will.
Cost Of Writing A Will: In Summary
Anyone looking to write a will can find the service for free. However, most people prefer to write a will using a solicitor, which costs between £250 and £700. Although the cost may seem steep, the higher cost for your estate, not to mention your beneficiaries, is not having a will in place at all.
For those who are yet to write a will, or feel that their will needs updating, don’t delay in getting it sorted out. Writing a will is usually straightforward to arrange, and will save time, hassle and upset for your loved ones as your final wishes for your estate will be documented in writing.
Did you find this post on the cost of writing a will helpful? Be sure to check out our other articles about finance and pensions for seniors. If you have any further questions about writing a will, or if you have any requests for future articles, please leave us a comment below.