Latest insights from our experts

Posted 11 December 2013
by Gráinne Staunton

There’s no such thing as a free Will!

With the cost of living on the rise and prices for food, petrol and energy soaring, the offer of a free Will may seem increasingly tempting nowadays.

However, although the Will itself may be complimentary, you could end up paying over the odds for additional services which you do not want or need. Your Will may seem free now, but you might pay for it later.

Commonly, some organisations provide customers with a Will, free of charge, but seek to finance this by trying to make money from this service in other ways. These include:

1. Appointing themselves as professional executors

When writing a Will, you should consider who you want to appoint to deal with your estate after your death. You may wish to appoint a family member, or you might prefer to choose a professional executor to deal with your estate, so that your family can avoid further stress at an already difficult time.

In all cases though, the organisation preparing a Will for you should make the available options clear and should not push you to appoint them as your executor. Unfortunately, this does not always happen and certain organisations once appointed, then charge up to 4% of the value of an estate in fees, which can work out to tens of thousands of pounds.

2. Monthly storage fees

Although the Will itself may be free, the organisation may also charge you to store it. In one case, the charge was £13 per month for life – all to store one document.

3. Asset protection trust

The most expensive supplement to a free Will, though, could be an asset protection trust.

Trusts can be extremely useful for some individuals who wish their family to benefit from their wealth but do not want to pass it to them outright. A trust can also protect assets in the event of future matrimonial disputes and from means-testing for care home benefits.

However, trusts are not appropriate to everyone and certainly should not be used as a standard pairing for very Will.

In some cases, individuals have been sold an asset protection trust that they did not want or need by organisations who then charged them £3,000 or £4,000 for privilege. The customer sometimes does not even know the trustees who are appointed and must transfer all their assets to those unknown trustees.

The alternative

There is no substitute for the advice of regulated professionals.

With the cost of living on the rise and prices for food, petrol and energy soaring, the offer of a free Will may seem increasingly tempting nowadays.

However, although the Will itself may be complimentary, you could end up paying over the odds for additional services which you do not want or need. Your Will may seem free now, but you might pay for it later.

Commonly, some organisations provide customers with a Will, free of charge, but seek to finance this by trying to make money from this service in other ways. These include:

1. Appointing themselves as professional executors

When writing a Will, you should consider who you want to appoint to deal with your estate after your death. You may wish to appoint a family member, or you might prefer to choose a professional executor to deal with your estate, so that your family can avoid further stress at an already difficult time.

In all cases though, the organisation preparing a Will for you should make the available options clear and should not push you to appoint them as your executor. Unfortunately, this does not always happen and certain organisations once appointed, then charge up to 4% of the value of an estate in fees, which can work out to tens of thousands of pounds.

2. Monthly storage fees

Although the Will itself may be free, the organisation may also charge you to store it. In one case, the charge was £13 per month for life – all to store one document.

3. Asset protection trust

The most expensive supplement to a free Will, though, could be an asset protection trust.

Trusts can be extremely useful for some individuals who wish their family to benefit from their wealth but do not want to pass it to them outright. A trust can also protect assets in the event of future matrimonial disputes and from means-testing for care home benefits.

However, trusts are not appropriate to everyone and certainly should not be used as a standard pairing for very Will.

In some cases, individuals have been sold an asset protection trust that they did not want or need by organisations who then charged them £3,000 or £4,000 for privilege. The customer sometimes does not even know the trustees who are appointed and must transfer all their assets to those unknown trustees.

The alternative

There is no substitute for the advice of regulated professionals.

Tozers offer an expert Will-writing service tailored to your wishes and needs. We have a wealth of experience in drafting both simple and complex Wills and can provide Inheritance Tax advice if you require.

Tozers will guide you through the matters that are important to you and will adapt our service to your requirements.

Charity Free Wills

We also participate in charity schemes such as Free Wills Month and Will Aid, where you will not be charged for your Will, but are invited to make a donation to charity or to leave a charitable legacy on your Will instead.

Tozers offer an expert Will-writing service tailored to your wishes and needs. We have a wealth of experience in drafting both simple and complex Wills and can provide Inheritance Tax advice if you require.

Tozers will guide you through the matters that are important to you and will adapt our service to your requirements.

 

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About the author

Partner and solicitor who specialises in the administration of complex estates, Wills and estate planning for wealth preservation and asset protection