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Can I write a will online?

08th June 2020

Whilst it’s possible to draw up a will online, it has to be signed in person by the Testator/Testatrix (the individual to whom the will belongs) in the presence of two witnesses. Unfortunately, digital signatures are still not held as legally binding in the UK, meaning that all signatures have to be done using ink and paper. If you’re considering opting for an online will writing service, read on for our advice.

 

Online will writing – some considerations 

 

Will Writing Regulations 

Although most aspects of the financial service industry are heavily regulated, will writing is not. In theory, anyone can write up a will for another person regardless of their experience or qualifications. This lack of regulation brings various risks, including: 

  • Incompetent practitioners – Those without sufficient experience and knowledge will not be able to take account of your individual financial situation and tailor a will to reflect your wishes. 
  • Lack of redress – If your will writer does not belong to an official body, you may not have cause to redress. This means that you will not be able to make a complaint about your will, or seek compensation. 
  • Fraud – Unfortunately, the lack of regulation on the industry has increased the risk of the fraud from those looking to benefit themselves from the terms of a will. 

 

In order to mitigate these risks, we recommend choosing a will writer (either online or in-person) that is a member of an official body, such as the Society of Will Writers, which offers consumers a certain level of protection. Opting for a solicitor’s will writing service, furthermore, provides the possibility to seek redress through the Legal Ombudsman Service

 

Levels of Service 

The quality of service offered by online will writers varies hugely. At the cheaper end of the scale, the entire process is automated – all that is required is for you to fill out a simple questionnaire and a draft will is automatically generated. Although this might sound appealing (both for cost and time spent), it inevitably results in a will that doesn’t accurately reflect your assets and how you would like them to be distributed. For a higher cost, you should expect the attention of a dedicated will writer that will work with you to gain a better understanding of your financial situation, and construct a more bespoke will. 

 

Signatures 

Regardless of the type of online will writing service you select, it’s important to note that your will is not legally binding until signed in person, and in the presence of two witnesses (who must also sign). 

Given social distancing rules, various precautions must be taken when the signing of a will takes place: 

  • Sign the document outside (if possible) 
  • All signatories must stand at least two metres apart 
  • Use separate pens 
  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds afterwards 

 

Alternatives to online will writing 

There are multiple ways of writing a will. Aside from an online will writing service, it’s possible to have a draft written up by a professional will writer (belonging to an accredited body) or solicitor. As mentioned, these offer greater protection than certain unaccredited online service providers, and will result in a legally-binding document that accurately reflects how you would like your assets to be distributed. 

If budgets are a problem, there are also a few ways of writing a will for free. Alongside charity and union schemes, there are a number of DIY will writing kits now available – though bear in mind, these are unlikely to result in the same standard of quality as a will written by a professional will writer (it’s easy to make a mistake when drafting a will by yourself). 

 

IMC Financial Services can help you to write a legally-binding will that ensures your assets are secure after you pass away. Please get in contact with one of our fully-accredited will writers to discuss your options. 

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