Free Wills

There’s no such thing as a free lunch now is there? It’s unlikely when a company offers you free wills that it actually comes for free…

Free wills, in my opinion, are a thing of myth and legend. That’s because more often than not what can seem to be free comes at cost later down the line.

Free wills are often toted by solicitors during ‘free will week’ or are given away by charities but if you look a little closer it’s not hard to find the catch.

The charitable free will often features a clause to leave a gift to charity and why not I hear you say? After all, they are providing the will. However often the wording of this gift needs further scrutiny.

It’s often the case that testators (the person writing the will) may leave the residue of their estate to charity. To make this easier to understand the will may break down as follows,

I leave the house and these other named asserts to my children John, Paul and Ringo.
I leave my jewellery to my niece Prudence
I leave everything else to ‘insert charity here’

The problem with this type of will is that,

1. you never really know what will be left
2. How does the charity know that they are getting their fair share?

In answer to question 2 many (not all) charities will instruct a solicitor to ensure they are getting their fair share. This solicitor will then require a break down of the estate to carry out their obligation to the charity. Who pays for their work? well the estate does, leaving Paul, George and Ringo paying the bill out of their inheritance.

The Executor Free Will offered by solicitors or banks may be free now but you will end up paying later.

A professional may well write a will during free will week for example, but will normally write themselves in as an executor.

What starts as a free will can often become a very expensive process. As an executor your will provider can charge his or her probate administration costs to the estate. They could charge at an hourly fee and/or a percentage of the estate this is when it can start to get really expensive and as an executor they are not legally obliged to renounce when asked.  So, John, Paul, George and Ringo will be forced to use them and will receive their inheritance after the solicitor’s fees and probate costs have been deducted.

Are all free wills bad ?   NO,  but When offered a free will best to read the small print…

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