How much does it cost to make a Will?

Or what makes different businesses charge wildly different prices for essentially the same thing?

Lots of clients and potential clients will talk to me about their Wills for some time, and then say ‘Ruth, I know this is something I need to get done, and I would like to use you, but can you just tell me how much a Will should cost? I mean, how do I know if I’m getting good value for money?  And can you tell me if there are any other (cheaper) options out there that will be just as good for me?’

I totally understand why this is the case. Wills can range from being totally free, to costing thousands of pounds. And people want to be reassured that they are getting good value for the fee they are paying.

There are two main categories of thing that will affect the price of your Will. They are:

1. the things that affect how much any given business will charge you to write your Will; and

2. the things that will make your individual Will either more or less expensive (i.e. your own circumstances and requirements).

THIS article is all about the first category. Or, in other words, why is X business going to charge me three times the amount of Y business, for essentially the same Will.

There is a whole other article about things that might affect the price of your individual Will, once you have chosen the right person to work with you. You can find that here.

Before we dive in, there is one important caveat. I am going to assume we are talking about quite a straightforward, simple Will here; one that doesn’t require specialist advice (e.g. cross-border or trust work). Of course, for really complex Wills / situations, there will be extra considerations AND fewer businesses around who have the necessary expertise. I am not intending to cover that off here.

This article is aimed at the vast majority of people with relatively straightforward affairs. If that’s you, let’s get stuck right in:

The things that affect how much a business will charge you to write your Will

how much does it cost to make a will in the uk

Is the business online or offline?

There are numerous, good-quality online Will writing services coming onto the market. Think traditional players like Co-operative Legal Services, through to the newcomers like Farewill (GREAT name by the way!). These companies are investing big time into technology so they can write Wills in BULK.  They can keep their individual prices down because they use clever software to enable them to process large numbers of Wills automatically; then, they will use a qualified lawyer to check the Wills over for any anomalies or drafting errors.

Online will writing businesses are therefore usually cheaper than their offline, traditional counterparts, who will have to employ more humans to process the same number of Wills.

So, if you aren’t bothered about seeing someone face to face, if your affairs are straightforward, and if you have the technology in place to fill out the necessary online forms (and you don’t mind doing this), this could be a good option for you.

However, do watch out for some of these things I’ve noticed:

  • Some online will writing companies charge an additional fee to send you a hard copy of the Will to sign, so there might be extra costs if you don’t have a printer at home.
  • Some online will writing companies will try and suggest you use them, or an associated business, as an executor of your Will. Often, these companies will make exponentially more money from their probate services than from their Wills, which can be used as ‘loss-leader’ bait for them to generate future work.
  • There is sometimes an option to pay an annual fee which includes Will storage and covers future amendments to your Will – this can be a great deal, but just check what sort of future amendments are covered, as there will be limits.

Size and location of the business

I’ve worked for a city law firm, for large regional solicitors, and for small high-street practices. I’ve been responsible for preparing Wills in all of these businesses, and there are two things I’ve noticed about pricing:

1. The bigger the firm, the higher the cost; and

2. Location matters – businesses located in more expensive areas can charge more money for the exact same service.

For example, I might have prepared a basic Will for a client of a mid-sized firm in Sevenoaks (expensive location) at a cost of £450; and the exact same Will for the exact same client who happened to go to a small high-street firm in Chatham (cheaper location) at a cost of £250. In each case, you could be getting the same level of expertise and the same service and document; but there can be a huge price differential.

The reason is of course down to overheads.  The businesses in more affluent areas have to pay more rent. They probably have to pay their staff more, and give better benefits, in order to attract them to commute there. And the bigger the business, the more other, really important overheads like professional indemnity insurance go up.

You will have to use you own judgement as to whether size and location matter to you, or if you are prepared to go ‘out of area’ (particularly now most firms are operating remotely) in order to get a better deal.

Packages 

Some firms choose to package their Wills with other products, such as Lasting Powers of Attorney and funeral plans, so that the price of the actual Will becomes minimal, or even free.

For example, I’ve seen deals like ‘free Will with every funeral plan’.

Just like the online providers, offline Will writing businesses sometimes choose to use a lower value item, like a simple Will, as bait to reel in the bigger work.  A business can make anything up to a few hundred pounds from selling a single funeral plan, so this still works out as a profitable arrangement for them.

This type of packaged deal may work for you IF you really want the other product/s. But do ask yourself whether you are actually getting good value overall. I can’t answer this for you, and the answer will be different for each situation, but it is worth some real thought.

Finally, importantly, do you feel the business is still giving your Will the full time and attention it deserves? Remember, even a simple Will is a precise legal document requiring careful thought and advice. For instance, check if your discounted or packaged Will is being delegated to a less qualified junior who has been put in charge of processing all the ‘free Wills’.

It is worth noting here that over the years I have been aware of more negligence claims in the firms I have worked for relating to free or discounted Wills than I have in relation to Wills that are priced according to their actual value. It is a simple time / money equation.

‘Free will weeks / months’

Free will months or weeks are really just another example of a packaged product, in that what it boils down to is you are offered a basic Will for free, in order to try and get something else from you, either now or in the future.

Free Will schemes are where a business will offer to write your Will for free for a limited period of time. This offer is often run in conjunction with a particular charity, and the will writer will usually ask you to consider making a donation to the charity in lieu of their fee.

There is nothing wrong with free will schemes, although they can sometimes be difficult to access as they are, understandably, very popular.

I would always ask, though, ‘what does the business / charity want in return for the free service?’ The answer is usually:

  • your personal data; and/or
  • your Will being held in the business’s Will bank, so the business can ultimately try and get the probate work when you die.

It may also be that the charity will encourage you to leave a legacy to them in your Will (though this should never be compulsory).

At the end of the day, if you feel you are prepared to give up whatever it is the business and / or the charity want from you, in return for the free service, and that you are still getting value, then this can be a reasonable way of having your will drafted free of charge.

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I hope this is a useful rundown of the main reasons there can be wildly different prices across the industry. Ultimately, only you can decide whether you are getting true value from your will writer, based on your own needs and preferences. This article should at least arm you with enough information to help you make a qualified decision, though.

If you want to chat to us about pricing, or anything else, just call – 01622 934887!

Cost of a will