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How to make a will in the UK – online vs solicitor

9 minutes to read

Making a will? Embarrassingly, it had fallen to the bottom of my priority list. I had all the other financial pillars in place: no more consumer debt, a well-stocked Emergency Fund and regular savings and investments. But as a family man, I knew I should have this in place. So why was I putting it off?

The answer was that it felt complicated, intimidating and expensive. But I knew now was the time I needed to finally do it. So the question was; do I use a cheaper online service or the traditional and expensive solicitor?

This is what I found out, the options I explored and what I decided to do.

Why should I make a Will?

Making a will in the UK is considered by many as the absolute cornerstone to good personal finance. Level one. Mission control. The foundation to everything.

The reason for this is that in the UK, without a will in place, your estate (money, property, wealth etc) and your loved-ones are highly vulnerable. It was when I truly understood the impact of this that motivated me to pull my finger out and get this sorted.

According to Co-op Legal Services, 60% of adults, or 31 million people, are letting the law decide who should benefit from their death.

It is something we should all do, but there are certain times when we should really make it a priority:

  • Family planning
  • Getting married/divorced
  • Buying/selling a home
  • Wanting to leave assetts to certain charities or even pets

Therefore, even if you think you have little assets, wealth or family, it is incredibly important to make a will.

Heads up – we are a personal finance magazine and not financial experts. Do your own research and speak to a professional through a free independent service such as Unbiased. Also, some links on this post may contain affiliates that earn us a small commission. Cheers.

Why you MUST make a Will

Your wishes are fulfilled – without a Will in place, automatic rules will dictate how your estate is distributed. These could be completely at odds with your wishes.

Tax efficiencies – by planning the distribution of your assets in advance, you may be able to reduce the tax burden on those who inherit your estate. To be most effective, this planning should be done as soon as possible and reviewed as your personal finances develop.

Partner but not married? – unmarried partners or those not registered in a Civil Partnership cannot inherit from each other unless a Will is in place. This leaves your loved one seriously financially vulnerable.

Protecting your children – if one or both of their parents die, what happens to them now lies in the hands of the state. Not your friends or relative, but strangers. Whilst professionals, how can they know what is best for your child(ren)?

Map of UK showing 65% of brits don't have a will

Courtesy of Beyond.

Do I need a solicitor to make a will?

Interestingly, a solicitor is not technically required for it to be legally binding. Anyone can write one and there are a number of ‘DIY’ options available.

However, it must conform to UK court laws. For this reason, many people opt to use a solicitor or online service, particularly given how cheap the latter can be.

How do I make a Will in the UK?

For a good overview of what involved in writing a will, Gov.uk does a decent job.

In summary, the main things you need to think about include:

  • who will benefit from your will (and what happens if they die before you).
  • what will happen to children under 18.
  • who will carry out the wishes within your will (the ‘executor’).

When making a will in the UK, there are three main routes to choose from:

1.Free services (trade unions or charities)

2.Traditional solicitor

3.Online options

Making a will for free

For some, there are options for getting a will written for free. These often include having the will written by a professional solicitor.

Charity-based schemes, such as Cancer Research UK and The Childen’s Hospital Charity offer free or discounted will making services.

They do this in the hope of a donation or being left in the will, though there isn’t usually an obligation.

If you have a specific charity in mind you would like to include in your will, it’s worth getting in touch with them to see if they offer this service.

Many trade unions also offer this service. So if you’re a member, get in touch with your representative to explore any options available to you.

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When to use a solicitor to make my will

Using a solicitor is the traditional route when making a will. Personally, I’m attracted to any service that makes things easy, cheap(er) and simple. So the online will-making services (such as below) appeal to me.

However, I was concerned whether they would cater for my specific circumstances. Although these aren’t particularly complex, I do own businesses and share property ownership with other people.

Handily, there are some certain scenarios where you may want to consider paying for tailored, professional advice.

  • You share a property with someone who is not your husband, wife or civil partner.
  • Ownership of property overseas
  • Ownership of a business
  • Leaving assets to a dependent who cannot care for themselves
  • Several family members claiming your will (eg, children from a previous marriage)

Importantly, will making in the UK is not regulated. Therefore, the amount of protection you have varies significantly. One of the key benefits of using a solicitor is that extra level of protection by having a will written by a practising professional that is regulated.

Lastly, using a solicitor means they will store the original will in a safe place.

Falling into several of the categories above had a big influence on which way I leaning.

Can I make a DIY will online in the UK?

If you feel your circumstances are quite straight forward, then you may wish to consider an online will making service. In today’s world, there is a wide range of options to consider.

There a number of benefits here:

  • Convenience
  • Typically cheaper than a solicitor
  • Often takes less time
  • Deals for bolt-ons (eg, lasting power of attorney) or couples
  • Access to support via phone, email or chat

Below are the two online services I looked at. Click the links to read the full reviews.

Is an online will cheaper than a solicitor?

Yes, online wills are often significantly cheaper than using a solicitor.

Online will writing services such as Kwil and Beyond charge £90 for a Single Will and between £120 and £135 for a Couple’s Will.

By comparison, using a solicitor can cost £150-£200 for a Single Will and upwards of £300 for a Couples Will.

However, there are many occasions when an online service simply isn’t appropriate, such as if you have more than very simple circumstances. Therefore, whilst a solicitor may cost more money, it represents significantly better value as your personal situation is specifically covered.

Ultimately, it will come down to your personal circumstances and the complexities involved.

Kwil - online will writing service

Kwil in a nutshell:

  • Specialise in online wills, lasting power of attorney and probate.
  • Support from 8am – 6pm seven days a week.
  • 4.9 out of 5 on Trustpilot.
  • Unlimited updates.
  • Virtual ‘lockbox’ to store your online will safely and securely.
  • Range of handy free guides on the website.
  • £90 per single will, £120 for couples (conditions will apply).
  • Takes approximately 20-30 minutes.
  • Only pay when you print/download.

Check out their website and read our full Kwil review here.

Beyond - online will writing service

Beyond at a glance:

  • Specialise in online wills, lasting power of attorney, probate and funerals.
  • Support from 9am – 7pm seven days a week.
  • 4.8 out of 5 on Trustpilot.
  • £90 per single will, £135 for couples (conditions will apply).
  • Free physical storage.
  • Only pay when you print/download.
  • Takes approximately 10 – 15 minutes.

Check out their website and read our full Beyond review here.

Can I make a will without a solicitor?

Yes, of course you can. And if your needs are simple and you want it on a budget, then these online offerings are convenient and good value.

Me? I went down the traditional solicitor route. Why? Because although my affairs are not necessarily complex, they aren’t basic or simple either. My situation needed some customisation and input from a regulated professional that I could have an in-depth phone meeting with. It was pricier, at about £350 for a couple, but worth it for us.

EatSleepMoney.co.uk does not offer financial advice and is intended for reference/information only. Remember, you should always carry out your own research and/or take specific professional advice before choosing any financial products or services or undertaking any business or financial venture. Investments may go up as well as down and you may get back less than you put in.