A person is at liberty to draft their own will if they wish, and therefore pay only for the ink and the paper required to write it or the cost of a DIY kit from a Highstreet stationery shop. Any such “DIY will” will be perfectly valid as long as it meets all of the criteria set out in section 9 of the Wills Act 1837. However, while DIY wills can seem appealing and cost effective at first, they can cause complex issues after your death that become expensive to solve.
Baring that in mind, you may instead choose to seek out expert advice and have your will drafted by a professional will drafter. You may even come across a firm who advertises their will writing services for free! Our advice to consumers taking up offers of free wills is to be cautious. Do research into the firm first, check what the terms of their offer of a free will is, and make sure you thoroughly read and understand all documents provided.
When a professional drafter offers to write you a free will it is often the case that the will is not truly “free”. Many include in the terms and conditions they provide that they will be appointed as executors of your estate (the people responsible for administering your estate after you have passed away). Their professional service as executors will not be free of charge, and fees can vary wildly. Solicitors, banks, and trust corporations might charge anywhere between 1-10% of the gross estate and may even include an hourly fee additional to this.
There are definitely benefits to appointing a professional executor if your estate is particularly large or complex, or if there are no family or friends who would be suitable to act. There is no requirement to appoint a professional executor however. If your estate is not particularly complex it could be handled by a family member, and this family member could seek professional assistance if required – keeping costs down.
If you do choose to take up the offer of a free will on the basis that the firm will appoint themselves as executors make sure you are clear on their fees and the ultimate cost to your estate.
Is there any such thing as a free lunch? Possibly, but its best to make thoroughly sure before committing.