Free Wills – New Online Service

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Circular No: NCP/181/17
Our Ref: LA/11/2017
9th November 2017

To: Branches, Regional Councils & Regional Offices


Dear colleague,


Free Wills – New Online Service.


I am pleased to report that we have arranged with Thompsons in England Wales and Scotland to provide free wills on line.


The On Line Will System allows you to write your own will immediately. Your information and wishes are entered as you go through the questionnaire, just like they would be at a meeting with a solicitor, only you don’t have to wait for the solicitor to draft the will, you just press a button and the will is printed and ready for you to sign at your convenience.


No special legal skills or IT experience are necessary, the system explains all the words and phrases that you come across when making a will as well as providing useful information about how the law on wills works in practice.


Client Confidentiality and Data Protection are key considerations and so the On Line Will System operates in a safe and secure environment.


You don’t have to complete the online questionnaire in one sitting, you can save the information you have entered and then re-visit the system at a later date to finish writing the will.


It is a good idea to map out your plans in writing and make sure you that have details of full names and full postal addresses of everyone who you need to mention available before you start.


Your note of your plans should include the following information;
•    the names and addresses of the people who you want to arrange your funeral and sort things out when you have died (the “Executors”);
•    if any gifts can’t be paid right away for any reason then the people who look after the gifts in the meantime are called “Trustees” so you should also have their details to hand;
•    if you have young children then you can appoint “Guardians” to look after them when you have gone, if so, you’ll also need their details to hand.  You might want to ask those people if they are willing to act as Guardians of your children;
•    if you want any personal belongings to go to anyone in particular, make a list of items and put the name and address at the side of them to help you when filling in the questionnaire;
•    if you want to make gifts of cash amounts to anyone then make a list of the amount next to each person’s details;
•    otherwise, you need to decide what fraction of what’s left when you die goes to each person, so you might say “all to my widow, or if she’s gone before me then equally between my three children but if any of them dies before me, their children get their share.”


ONLINE WILL WRITING – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why bother, why not make a will with my local solicitor?
The RMT Online Will Writing System (“OWS”) is FREE and allows you to write your own will immediately. Your information and wishes are entered as you go through the questionnaire, just like they would be at a meeting with a solicitor, only you don’t have to wait for the solicitor to get round to drafting the will, you just press a button and the will is printed and ready for you to sign at your convenience.

What about legal advice that I might need before I make a will?
As you follow the step by step process and complete the online questionnaire, basic information is provided along the way. It must be remembered that the free will writing service is only designed for people who only need a simple will and should not be treated as an alternative to obtaining specialised legal advice.

How hard is it to use the online will writing system?
No special legal skills or IT experience is necessary, the system explains all the words and phrases that you come across when making a will as well as providing useful information about how the law on wills works in practice.

Is my personal information safe?
Client Confidentiality and Data Protection are key considerations and so the OWS operates in a safe and secure environment.

What if I have to stop part way through the process?
You don’t have to complete the online questionnaire in one sitting, you can save the information you have entered and then re-visit the system at a later date to finish writing the will.


The information is retained for six months so you have plenty of time to go back to finish your will.


What if I don’t have time to think about what I want whilst I’m on the computer?
Our lawyers recommend that you map out your plans in writing and make sure you have everyone’s full names and full postal addresses to hand before you start.
Your note of your plans should include the following information;
•             the names and addresses of the people who you want to arrange your funeral and sort things out when you have died, (the “Executors”)
•              if any gifts can’t be paid right away for any reason then the people who look after the gifts in the meantime are called “Trustees” so you should also have their details to hand (although your executors can also be your trustees)
•              if you have young children then you can appoint “Guardians” to look after them when you have gone, if so, you’ll also need their details to hand
•              if you want any personal belongings to go to anyone in particular, make a list of items and put the name and address at the side of them to help you when filling in the questionnaire
•              if you want to make gifts of cash amounts to anyone then make a list of the amount next to each person’s details
•              otherwise, you need to decide what fraction of what’s left when you die goes to each person, so you might say “all to my widow, or if she’s gone before me then equally between my three children but if any of them dies before me, their children get their share.”


What things aren’t covered by the will?
This is a free service which is not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice and which should only be used by people with straight forward personal and financial circumstances.
The service is limited to one free will per person, so it is not possible to up-date an older will via this system.
If you have foreign assets, own a business, fall into the Inheritance Tax bracket, have unresolved financial issues following a divorce or separation, wish to avoid Care Fees or have dependants but wish to disinherit them then you must get specialist professional advice before making your will and you may also need other legal services in addition to the will.

Where can I get specialist legal advice if the free online service is not appropriate in my case?
As RMT’s Legal Partners, Thompsons Solicitors and BBH Legal Services Limited and Thompsons Scotland offer a range of legal services the cost of which is discounted for RMT members and which include solutions for issues such as estate planning for tax and care fees, protecting assets for your family from claims by third parties, making complex wills, setting up and running trusts, Probate, Powers of Attorney and Court of Protection work.  

I shall arrange for an article to be placed in the Journal and also a link placed on our web site. In the meantime can you notify our members and activists.

Yours sincerely
 
Mick Cash
General Secretary