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I am often asked how much does it cost to write a Will, sometimes this question is followed by “isn’t it better (presumably meaning cheaper and easier) to write it yourself?” The answer is “not as much as you might think” and “no it’s not better to do it yourself.”
I recently heard a rumour that we charge a percentage of the assets of the person making the Will for the privilege of writing their Will. This is completely untrue. It is the case that we often calculate the cost of administering the Estate of a deceased person by reference to the value of that Estate. However, the value of an Estate is quite irrelevant when it comes to writing the Will itself.
Here at Bell & Buxton we have a series of fixed fees for Codicils and Wills starting at £75.00 and £120.00 and going up depending on the complexity of the final document. There is a discount for couples who make mirror Wills.
It is of greater concern to me that some people still believe it is better to ‘do it yourself’. Here at Bell & Buxton we recently had a case where it was necessary to unpick a handwritten Will a generation later in order to establish exactly what had happened. We needed to ensure that the Estate had been properly administered and all Tax paid. In fact this was not the case, the cost to the family in relation to a relatively small Estate was in excess of £15,000 in tax and penalties and legal costs. Had the deceased simply taken advice from a qualified Solicitor at the time of making the Will this could have all been avoided.
Some people engage the services of an unqualified Will Writer. Such Will Writers often advertise at very cheap rates. They are able to do this because they do not have the training or the qualifications, they do not have to pay their professional body for membership, supervision and regulation nor provide professional insurance or even the other overheads which Solicitors normally have.
Wills written by such unqualified people are often more complex than they need to be and appear complex when sometimes they are not. It can be the old problem of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing. Given the complexity of the finished Will, the client may feel that they have had a good job done but sometimes the Wills themselves are contradictory, misleading and may simply be void.
There are a number of occasions where Bell & Buxton has had to deal with unpicking a substantial mess in an Estate on the basis of a badly drafted Will. This, necessarily, is a cost in the Estate and ultimately must be borne by the family and friends of the deceased. We had a number of occasions in the last couple of years where clients have come to us after writing a Will with an unqualified person and we have simply had to advise them to write a new Will to avoid various problems in the future.
Of course nobody is perfect and it is true that Solicitors can also make errors in drafting Wills. However, the professional standards of Solicitors require constant in-service training and in any event, professional insurance has to be paid in order to deal with any claim that otherwise might fall into the Estate. In cases where Solicitors make mistakes the client at least should not have to suffer financially.
So whilst the straight forward answer to the question “what does it cost to make a Will” maybe “not as much as you may think”, the longer answer might be to add that not getting this done properly and paying for it at a proper rate may be far more costly in the long run than you might ever imagine. Doing it yourself may save pounds now but costs thousands of pounds to the family and loved ones in the future.
For more information on preparing Wills and administering Estates please contact Charles Neal on 0114 249 5969 or email@example.com