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The Dangers of making a will online

View profile for Lucy Dunning
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The Dangers of Online Wills
Co-op Legal Services recently announced that it is partnering with Amazon UK to offer digital Wills. Clients will input their data online and receive a Will to sign at home, which is a quick and inexpensive alternative to using a solicitor to draft a Will. 
But can it really be that easy to do a Will? Here we explore the dangers of using an online Will writing service.
1. Digital Wills are Not Bespoke
Digital Wills are generally computer generated. The client enters a few snippets of information and a Will is quickly produced. Online Will writers do not take the time to fully understand the client’s family dynamics and finances, so they have no way of ensuring that the Will suits the individual’s circumstances. This could result in successful claims against the estate by family members who are not included in the Will, or unnecessary Inheritance Tax bills – all of which could cost the client’s estate thousands of pounds.
2. No Verification
Online Will writers do not meet the client in person and sometimes do not require proof of identity. Therefore they cannot be fully certain that the client is who they portray themselves to be online. In theory, anyone could be sitting at the computer pretending to be the client. 
Online Will writing companies also cannot confirm that the client has sufficient testamentary capacity to sign a Will, or that the client was not under any undue pressure to sign the Will. This leaves the client’s estate wide open to claims that the Will is not valid. A successful claim could cost the estate thousands of pounds in legal fees, result in the estate not passing to the client’s intended beneficiaries and considerable distress to the client’s family and friends.
3. Hidden Costs
The main appeal of a digital Will is that it is cheaper than a Will drafted by a solicitor. However, there can sometimes be hefty hidden costs associated with digital Wills. Often online Will writing software automatically appoints the Will writer as the executor. Not only is this unlikely to reflect the client’s wishes, but it also means that the client’s estate will have to pay substantial administration fees when the client dies. Beneficiaries may also be burdened with the cost of dealing with claims against the estate, or mistakes contained in the Will, if it transpires that an online Will is not fit for purpose.
So, while online Wills clearly embrace a modern approach to Will drafting, the lack of bespoke advice and verification can have disastrous consequences for the client’s family and friends, who are sadly left behind to pick up the pieces. Only time will tell…
Don’t leave something so important to chance so contact us to guide you through.