Are Online Wills Valid?
In these days of online everything, you would have thought online Wills would have been straight-forward and legally valid. However, there are times when it makes sense to meet a person face to face. This is because the process of Will preparation is more than just form filling. The professional Will writer is fulfilling a number of other services by meeting you. This reduces the possibility of a contested or invalid will. Examples under English law follow but the principles apply to many jurisdictions.
Identification – How Can An Online Will Confirm This?
Others could impersonate you for financial gain. Making sure the person giving instructions is who they claim to be is very important. A will writer provides independent verification of a person’s identity. Seeing a client’s original passport and meeting them in their own home helps formal identification.
Undue Influence – How Can An Online Will Assess This?
It should be YOUR last will and testament, not someone else’s. A will made under duress is unlikely to be upheld if uncovered. It is difficult to establish whether a person is making a Will under coercion but it is easier to recognise in a face to face meeting. By meeting clients privately, the chance of this is reduced.
Other areas of potential influence are drugs (legal or otherwise) and alcohol. Instructions should not be taken from someone who has been drinking heavily. This is because it may impair their judgement. Anyone who has been on a late-night online shopping spree may attest to this. Fortunately, shopping can be returned, a Will is not so easily undone.
Intent & Being of Sound Mind
There have been occasions where people have prepared a legally valid Will but lacked the intent to do really carry it through. Therefore making sure the testator is serious about preparing their Will is essential. Discussing the purpose of your Will with a will writer helps establish intent. This is not something provided via an online Will service or template.
A requirement of being eligible to prepare a Will under English law is that of testamentary capacity. Just declaring yourself to be of sound mind does not make it so. Having a physical meeting with a person makes the assessment of their testamentary capacity easier.
So, in summary, a face to face meeting is important when preparing a Will. It will reduce the risk of the Will being contested on the grounds of fraudulent activity, coercion or lack of intent.
I hope you found this useful and please let me know if you have any questions by contacting me via my website greatbritishwills.com or what’s app 050 594 5217.