The Society of Will Writer’s Technical Team have always offered a will checking service. Unlike the majority of technical advice we offer which is free to full members, the will checking service is a paid service. This bulletin hopes to clear up any confusion about what the will checking service entails and what we need from you.
What is a will check?
We will check a will to ensure that it is drafted correctly and none of the clauses are uncertain, invalid, or otherwise likely to fail.
If you provide the instructions alongside the will we will also check that the will meets the clients instructions and does what you expect it to do.
If any clauses are invalid, or the will fails to meet the clients aims for any reason we will explain why and will offer suggestions for amendments that you may need to discuss with your client.
Some examples of common issues the will check is designed to check for include:
- Naming a single beneficiary in a discretionary trust.
- Failing to include default clauses in discretionary or FLIT trusts.
- Including conditions that are invalid, against public policy, in terrorem, or uncertain and will fail.
- Failing to deal with 100% of the residue.
- Including instructions asking executors and trustees to go beyond the powers given to them by law
On occasion, the Technical Team are asked to check particular clauses in a will for clarity that they have been drafted correctly, rather than the will in its entirety.
Whilst we are happy to do this, any clause check is limited to a maximum of 2 clauses in the Will with the inclusion of one trust. If we are asked to check more than this, this will constitute a will check and a member of the team will notify you prior to the will check being carried out.
Entitlement to free will checks
If you are a user of the Sure Will Writer software, whether a full member, affiliate member, or even a non-member, you are entitled to 6 free will checks. We offer this service free initially as an extra layer of support for the Sure Will Writer software so that new users can build their confidence with drafting using the software.
These free will checks don’t need to be the first 6 wills you draft on the software; you can choose which wills you want checking. For many people this means saving their free checks and sending only the complex cases they are worried about and want some reassurance on.
How to request a check
We won’t carry out any checks automatically. You must write to the Technical Team to request a check. You can do this either by sending an email to [email protected] or if you are using Sure Will Writer by clicking the support tab and then ‘request help’ to send a message directly from the software.
What we need from you
To carry out a will check we will need:
- A copy of the will(s) you want checking
These can be sent to us by email or by WeTransfer. If you are using Sure Will Writer and are sending your request via the ‘request help’ button from within the case you want checking, you can alternatively tick the option to grant us remote access to that case so no wills need to be emailed to us.
- A copy of the instruction form to check against the will
Or at the very least an email overview of what the client’s aims are and what you are expecting the will to achieve.
If no instruction form or overview is provided then we can still carry out the will check, but this will be less comprehensive. We will only be able to check the will for drafting errors, and not that it actually matches the client’s wishes. For example, we won’t point out that the way you have drafted a clause will mean that no RNRB is available if we aren’t made aware that the intention is to preserve the RNRB because no instructions or estate values have been provided.
- Any peripheral documents relevant to the drafting of the will
This includes copies of title deeds if you would like us to confirm whether the property is joint tenants or tenants in common, and any declarations of trust relevant to the provisions of the will, or any letter of wishes for trusts you would like checking.
Checking Lasting Powers of Attorney
We do not check LPAs as part of the will checking service. We do offer an additional LPA checking service though, which can be combined with a will check.
The free checking service for users of Sure Will Writer does not extend to LPAs.
We will require the LPAs you would like checking as well as the instruction form. These can be sent to us in the same manner as wills for will checks (See “what we need from you”).
Some examples of common errors the LPA check is designed to pick up:
- Misspellings of the donor or attorneys’ names.
- Incorrect or missing DOBs
- Instructions and preferences that are invalid or conflict with other aspects of the LPA
- Replacement attorney appointments that aren’t valid (e.g. making appointment conditional)
- Sections not being completed
What does it cost?
Prices are per case, not per individual testator. By ‘case’ we mean either single or mirror clients.
Once you have used your 6 free will checks, or if you were not entitled to any free checks, the fee for a will check is £35 per case.
The fee for an LPA check is £35. This covers up to four LPAs per case.
If requesting a will and LPA check at the same time the fee is £50 per case.
Please note: This service is available only to members of The Society of Will Writers. If you are a member of the public and require advice about your will or estate planning, please contact one of our members. To find a member in your area, please click here.
[Update 22/08/2023] Article amended to include information about clause checks.