From driving licence forms to sending off for your passport, the Post Office is a place where many of us handle some of life’s most important documents so if you’re looking for help with writing a will, it is understandable how it might seem like the Post Office could be a good place to start, especially if you’re looking for convenience!
Do the post office do wills? Sadly, the Post Office doesn’t offer a specific will pack or will writing service but the Post Office does however offer services aimed to support you during a time of bereavement should you need support in managing the estate of somebody who has died and you can find out more about those services here. In this article we will discuss the pros and cons of post office or ‘of the shelf’ will packs.
If you’re intrigued by the idea of picking up a will pack from your local post office you may have come across the term post office wills. Confusingly, this doesn’t mean you can sort out your will at the post office but alludes to the array of ready–made will templates and DIY approaches available for you to order online or pick up in some stationery type shops, including some Post Offices.
Your will is likely to be one of the most important legal documents you will write in your lifetime, so it pays to get it right. For the inexperienced amongst us there is plenty of room for error and any mistakes or ambiguity in the wording or signing of your will could result in it being invalid. To prevent this occurring and causing additional stress for your family and friends at the time of your death, you may be wondering what is the best way to draft your will?
What is the best way to draft a will?
Now that you know that the Post Office doesn’t provide a specific will service, this article will take you through the main options you do have when it comes to documenting your wishes for passing on your estate after you die.
We will cover the benefits and pitfalls of ‘off the shelf’ DIY will kits, using a ‘will writer’ or instructing a Solicitor for those looking to create a will that provides a clear and unambiguous disposal of your estate, that is executed correctly and will be legally enforceable in the event of your death.
Considerations Around Homemade Wills
There are plenty of websites offering cheap or even free will templates but before you download, print them off and stick them in a box thinking you’re all done and dusted, consider these points about DIY will making.
Writing your own will may work for you if your wishes are extremely simple. For example if your estate if of extremely limited value and you are purely documenting a very simple position to your next of kin, it may be possible. It does not take long however to understand that even seemingly simple family arrangements can have potential complexities under certain circumstances when it comes to will writing. If there is an accident and unfortunately multiple family members die at effectively the same time- are you are of the order of progression in the eyes of the law and how that can effect inheritance? It does not take a large estate value or any degree of complexity before the gold standard of using a solicitor is best.
Main Benefits of DIY wills:
- Cheaper in the short term
- A ‘quick fix’ if virtually no estate value and you are unable to afford the alternative.
Main Drawbacks of DIY wills:
- Easy to make a mistake.
- No challenge to considerations or issues with the law you may not have considered
- If using a template, the company that supplies it won’t take any responsibility if it turns out to be incorrect.
- You are solely responsible for its validity
Considerations for using Will Writers
If the complexity of your estate and family set up have led you to decide that a DIY will isn’t for you, you may be considering using a professional will writer to set out your wishes. If so, here are some things to consider.
Anyone can set up business as a will writer, so always check their credentials and experience to ensure that they are a member of either the Society of Will Writers or the Institute of Professional Will writers. Members of these trade organisations must have up to date training, hold insurance that covers legal costs if the will is challenged and follow a code of practice approved by the Trading Standards Institute.
Main Benefits of using a will writer:
- Often cheaper than using a solicitor
- More reliable than a DIY approach
- There are various ways to fulfill your will including by post, face to face or online.
- A good option if you have a basic understanding of wills but want the reassurance of somebody else drafting your will
Main drawbacks of using a will writer:
- You need to check the credentials of your will writer carefully – are they trained in wills and estate planning?
- No protection if something goes wrong
- They might not be able to store your will for you.
- Not generally regulated
Considerations When Using a Solicitor To Draft Your Will
Engaging a Solicitor to write your will is generally seen as the gold standard when it comes to will writing and is almost considered essential for those with any complexity to family affairs such as divorce or step children, or involve overseas investments, businesses, and estates valued over £325,000 for an individual or up to £650,000 for a married couple.
Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and are often members of trade bodies such as the Law Society which work to uphold the highest standards of care when it comes to matters of the law, meaning you get the peace of mind your will is drafted and executed correctly.
Main Benefits of using a Solicitor to draft your will:
- Solicitors promote a high duty of care and can be flexible to your needs
- Regulated so you are protected if something goes wrong
- Confidence your will is managed correctly – Solicitors are specifically trained in this field
- Your will is stored safely
- Can help to reduce inheritance tax
Main drawbacks of using a Solicitor to draft you will:
- Solicitors are often thought of as expensive but errors can be massively expensive to loved ones in the future and the cost may well be a lot less than you anticipate – often a few hundred pound to secure your legacy.
Considerations when drafting your will
However you choose to draft your will, it should meet the following criteria:
- Wills MUST be signed, dated and witnessed correctly. If not, your will is invalid.
- Ensure the spelling of the names of beneficiaries in your will are 100% accurate
- Destroy any old wills you may have when you create a new one or update it
- Be as specific as possible – use full names, not just first names or terms like husband or wife
- Tell your executor where your will is kept
Wills should be written using unambiguous language that can be interpreted without any confusion to meet legal requirements whilst providing the utmost clarity when it comes to actioning the wishes of the testator. Using the wrong wording could mean your instructions can’t be followed or the entire will is deemed invalid so bare this in mind if you choose to write your own will or use a template.
Also see: writing a will during lockdown
If you came here looking for Post Office Wills, we hope this article has given you an overview of the options available to you along with the pros and cons of each to allow you to make the most informed decision as to which method is right for you.
Whether your affairs are simple, or you have complex matters to consider such as multiple businesses, trusts and overseas investments, or are looking for a mirror will for you and your partner, Hattons Solicitors can help.
To discuss drafting your will with qualified, experienced and friendly solicitors, please do get in touch with our specialist will and probate lawyers.Posted on: 28/May/2020 Posted in: Family Law