This week’s Law Society Gazette (our ‘trade press’) carries an article about Beyond, a ‘revolutionary’ online will-writing service. Prepare a will in ten minutes. Avoid paying ‘hundreds of pounds’ to solicitors. It aims to ‘disrupt one of life’s most archaic industries’ and says that insisting that a simple will must be written with a solicitor is 'a tad protectionist'.
Let’s look at this sensibly. If you come to see me, the initial meeting will last between 20 minutes and an hour. It depends on you and your circumstances, your age, your assets, any tax liabilities, your family relationships. Second marriage with a difficult balance between second spouse and existing children? Cohabiting? Difficult children? Anyone on benefits or needing extra help or protection? What about other planning around your Will? No point making a Will if by the time of your departure, you have no assets left following a long spell in care. What about Lasting Powers of Attorney?
What about assessing and recording your capacity in case the Will is challenged? Are you under any pressure to make the Will? Are you completing the online form or are you being ‘helped’. Maybe you don’t even need a Will.
At the end of our meeting, you will have a much clearer picture of what is on offer, whether you actually need a Will or any other services, and how much each bit will cost. Then you decide what you want to go ahead with, if anything.
‘Beyond’, cheery former title ‘funeralbooker’, markets itself as a ‘challenger brand’ aiming ‘to free people from their worries surrounding after-life arrangements’.
I made myself a Will on Beyond.life but I won’t be signing it. It did not work for me. It did not ask anything about my assets and so did not offer me any advice about tax or asset planning. I am in a second marriage with one daughter from both marriages. It did not ask about or address that. I am a part owner of a business - nothing said. It only let me put in one beneficiary if my Wife does not survive me. One of my daughters would be very unhappy I think.
It did ask who I want to look after my dog, which was nice.
It also recommended Beyond as the Executor of my Will. Oh hang on. I see. Disrupting an archaic service by offering a free Will to get the Executorship. It might free you from your worries in your lifetime, but your family might not be so chuffed to be tied in after your day, and I think it may also relieve them of a few quid. Who’s zooming who?