Farewill Review – The smartest way to do a will?
In this independent Farewill review I look at the services they offer, how much Farewill costs, its pros and cons and how it compares to other similar services. I recommend you read the full review in order to understand if it may be the right will writing service for you.
In short I feel that Farewill’s services could be suitable for some readers (but not all) and we have obtained an exclusive offer that gives Money to the Masses readers £15 off the price of a single or couples will. In the interests of transparency Money to the Masses will receive a small payment if you do decide to take up the offer and take out a will. However editorial independence is paramount to Money to the Masses and in no way is this review or my views ever influenced by 3rd parties. Therefore I have also included a link to Farewill at the foot of this article which you can use and Money to the Masses will not receive any payment from your referral but nor will you receive a discount.
What is Farewill and how does it work?
Everyone would like to know that their family will be looked after when they pass away, but many people have not written a will. A will is a legal document that sets out your wishes for how your assets will be distributed once you die. But it's not just about your assets, as your will can also state who will become the legal guardians of your children. Alarmingly, research has shown that around two-thirds of adults have no will in place, which will put their assets and legacy at risk.
Many people think that creating a will is complicated and costly to setup, leading them to steer clear. This is where online will writing service Farewill comes in. It aims to simplify the will writing process, helping people compile their will in less than 15 minutes and get it checked by a qualified solicitor.
Founded by Oxford University graduates Tom Rogers and Dan Garrett, Farewill was launched in 2016 to create “simple and affordable digital wills you can update anytime", and has received financial backing from the founders of property portal Zoopla, newspaper publisher DMGT and SAATCHiNVEST. Farewill claims it now writes one in 30 wills in England and Wales and by the end of 2019 this is forecast to reach 10% of the market (i.e one in 10 will be written by Farewill).
What services does Farewill offer?
Farewill helps you create an individual Will or a couples' Will (which is also be known as a mirror will if the wishes of the couple are identical). The document is compiled automatically based on your responses to an online questionnaire.
Initially you are asked whether you live in England and Wales or elsewhere, this is because at this moment in time Farewill is only able to issue wills based on the law of England and Wales. The next series of questions concern your personal situation such as marital status and if you have any children.
Once these details are added you are ready to login and start completing the will. Before you start detailing where your assets should go, Farewill asks if you want the occasional email with special offers or discounts from itself or partners. If you opt into this it could mean getting lots of emails for other financial services products, which may pay a commission to the company.
It is then time to get into the nitty-gritty of the will. You will see a personalised page that tracks how much of the document has been completed and how long each section will take.
You need to list your assets from a simple drop-down table such as your pensions, bank account or savings. This is so those managing your wishes (known as the executors) know where to find your money when it needs to be distributed.
Once you have detailed your assets you need to decide who will receive them (known as the beneficiaries). This can be your children, a relative, friend or a charity. You need to decide on how assets are split between your beneficiaries and you are also asked to consider where the funds will go if one of the parties dies before you do. There is also an option to allocate gifts such as money or jewellery to people or charities and to leave instructions for your funeral.
Once your assets and beneficiaries are outlined you need to choose your executors who will ensure your wishes are followed through and are responsible for making sure debts or taxes are paid. This role can be completed by relatives but can be time-consuming and complicated so you can also use a lawyer to do this.
Farewill offers its own service through Farewill Trustees for a fixed fee of £1,000-£2,750, depending on the complexity of the estate. In comparison, other professional executors can charge a percentage of the value of an estate, which can end up costing a lot of money. You don't need to use either service and most people just appoint a friend or relative of similar age to them.
The final stage is paying for the document to be checked by Farewill’s legal team before you can download it. They will spot any errors that could make the will void and promise to raise any issues for you within five days. Farewill even has an option to let you go back and alter the document when necessary, such as if you were to get married, divorced or have children, but this does come with a fee.
At the end of the process you get a legal document that you can download. It will need to be signed by witnesses for it to be valid and you need to tell your beneficiaries or executors where it is stored.
How much does Farewill's Will service cost?
- Single will - £90
- Couples will - £140
- Optional annual subscription service (allows you to make any changes and is also updated if there are any law changes) - £10 per year
With Farewill you also get unlimited access to live phone and chat support every day of the week. There is the opportunity to get money off of the price of your will with an exclusive deal that gives Money to the Masses readers £15 off the price of a single or couples will.
(If you decide to choose Farewill Trustees as an executor, which you don't have to do, there is a fixed fee of between £1,000 and £2,750 depending on how complicated your estate is.)
Farewill takes away the hassle and stress of applying for probate in just a simple phone call. By calling Farewill and explaining your current situation Farewill will help you to understand more about probate, its cost and whether you actually need it.
After the initial phone call, Farewill will arrange a follow-up call to discuss more details about the estate. From this conversation, the tax and probate forms can be completed, checked by solicitors and then sent out to you to be signed.
The probate then needs to be approved by the government. Once it has been approved your probate is sent out to you in the post so that you are able to take charge of the accounts and admin. Farewill offers to take care of this for you by referring you to one of its partners that deals with estate administration.
Probate fees & charges
- Simple estates £595 including VAT (Freewill says 3/4 customers pay this price)
- Complex estates £1,045 including VAT (Freewill says 1/4 customers pay this price)
- Probate registry fee £155
- Probate copies £1.50 each
Farewill has recently introduced a cremation service (also referred to as 'direct cremation'). Farewill takes care of the cremation from start to finish, even hand-delivering the ashes, allowing you to take care of creating a personal memorial more suitable for you and your loved one.
How does Farewill's cremation service work?
Farewill collects your loved one from any location in England and Wales and takes them to its crematorium. It also deals with any necessary paperwork with the right medical professionals. The team then carries out a private cremation without a funeral service, Farewill says this allows you to 'spend more time planning a memorial with your family'. Farewill then delivers the ashes to you in an urn. You are then able to arrange your own personal memorial before choosing to display or scatter the ashes.
How much does Farewill's cremation service cost?
- Simple cremation fee - £980 including VAT
- Doctor's fees (if any) - Cremation fee + £164
- Complex collections (where a doctor needs to be called) - Cremation fee + £250
- If your loved one needs to be collected from their own home - Cremation fee + £414
Farewill states that the average cremation in the UK costs around £3,250 and the average funeral costs around £4,800 so by using Farewill you could be saving up to £3,820.
Pros and Cons of Farewill
- Low cost
- Quick and easy
- Save money if creating a will as a couple
Farewill is offering a low cost and accessible way to complete a will. People can often be put off by stuffy law offices or legal jargon so producing a will online in under 15 minutes has huge appeal. Farewill simplifies and speeds up the process and makes it as easy as applying for car insurance. It is also cheaper than a lawyer who may charge by the hour or by a flat fee ranging from £200 to £500.
- Farewill is not acting as a solicitor and is therefore not liable if things go wrong
- Little support for inheritance tax planning
Writing wills isn’t a regulated activity so you don’t need a solicitor to help you write one. However, using one can give you recourse if you have a complaint further down the line as consumers can complain about solicitors to the Legal Ombudsman. Farewill does have a legal team who will check your will, but they are not actually providing legal advice and are not liable for anything in the document that is not legally correct for your situation.
That is part of the reason why Farewill can price its services so low and it also means you won’t get support for more complex estates. For example, there is very little support for inheritance tax planning and the website says it also doesn’t provide an option for including property as a gift in the will as the consequences are complex and require advice. If you are likely to need to make lots of gifts and have a complex estate with lots of potential tax liabilities you may be better off paying for legal advice and a solicitor who can ensure your will is drafted property and legally sound. For more information on inheritance tax, check out our article 'The 10 best ways to avoid inheritance tax'.
Farewill customer reviews
Customers seem pretty pleased with Farewill so far. It has a Trustpilot rating of excellent, with an average of 4.9 out of 5.0 based on more than 3,500 reviews. Most reviewers praise how easy the site is to use. Just 1% of the reviews describe the service as bad, citing the language used in its popup chatbots while you complete the will or mistakes in the final document.
Farewill vs Solicitor wills
As mentioned, you don’t need a solicitor to make your will. Farewill is not a solicitor and is just providing an online template to complete your will plus a legal team who will check it for any errors and anything that could result in it being contested. There are also blogs and articles on its website that explain the legal terms such as what an executor or beneficiary is as well as the importance of different types of will.
In comparison, a solicitor will both help you write the will and provide advice on the legal and tax implications of your decisions. This may be more suitable if your estate is more complex and you don’t have the time to keep up with legal developments yourself. You also get further protections with a solicitor as you can complain to the Legal Ombudsman. Using a solicitor may be more expensive than Farewill but you are at least getting advice and further protection if you need it.
There are other firms such as MyLawyer which provides a range of legal services such as will writing, contracts and tenancy agreements and is run by solicitors and therefore subject to the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Legal Ombudsman rules.
Some insurance companies such as MoreTh>n also offer legal expenses cover, which includes online will writing, so it is worth also checking your policies for free services.
Farewill vs Which? Wills
Farewill’s closest competitor is Which? Wills. Which? actually uses the technology behind MyLawyer’s service, which is powered by legal software company Epoq. Which? Wills offers online will writing but has more levels of service than Farewill depending on your marital status and if you are doing an individual or joint will. It also lets you draft documents according to the law in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, while Farewill currently only offers this in England and Wales.
Which? pricing starts at slightly more expensive than Farewill. You can get a self-service will from £99 for an individual or £156 for a pair that you just complete and download yourself. This won’t be checked for accuracy but there are prompts throughout the process to make you consider the legal implications of your decisions and you can phone their helpline with queries. Its own legal team will review the document for £119 for an individual or £189 for a pair. There is also a premium service at £169 for an individual and £259 for a pair that Which? prints, binds and delivers to your door but also gives you a year of free storage.
Which? also offers other online templates to compile and purchase such as power of attorney documents which may be as important as your will and also offers storage and a will locator. Which? charges a one-off £19 fee if you want to make a change to your will or £39 if you want it checked. This compares with the £10 annual subscription Farewill charges in case you need to make an alteration. Check out our article 'The best online will writing services in the UK'.
Do you need a will?
Making a will ensures your loved ones are looked after and helps avoid any disputes. If you die without making a will then anyone with a claim on your estate must follow the rules of intestacy. Under these rules, close relatives such as a spouse or civil partner or child can inherit your estate but it can be hard for anyone else. This could cause an issue if there were certain assets you wanted to leave to particular people or if you had separated from a spouse.
It is particularly important to have a will if you share a property with someone who is not your husband, wife or civil partner or if you run a business with others as this can set out how you want your share to be dealt with in the event of your death.
Also, there may be former spouses or children from a previous marriage that you may want looked after in a certain way. The same goes for if you are a parent as you can determine who looks after any children below age 18 and appoint guardians if both you and the other parent die.
Ultimately, setting out your wishes in your will helps ensure your relatives are sure of how you want your estate to be treated and reduces the risk of your memory being spoilt by disputes over what has or hasn’t been left. Check out our article 'What is a will and should I get one?'
No-one wants their death to cause family disputes and making a will ensures your final wishes are clearly set out and that your loved ones benefit from assets you built up over your lifetime. Plus you can ensure that your children are looked after by the people you want them to be looked after by. Farewill does a good job of making it low cost (especially via our £15 discount offer), accessible and easy enough to complete, especially if your needs are not too complicated. But it is important to understand the service you are getting. This may not be suitable for complex cases where you require legal advice and have lots of assets such as property or children and partners from previous marriages. You do get a legal expert to check your will for any risks but remember the liability lies with you.
For clarity, the £15 discount offer was negotiated by MoneytotheMasses.com for the benefit of those who read this article and use MoneytotheMasses.com. We do receive a small benefit from Farewill as partners in their affiliate program which helps us keep MoneytotheMasses.com free to use. But as you can clearly see this has in no way influenced this independent and balanced review of the product. Please use the following link if you would prefer that MoneytotheMasses.com does not receive any payment for your referral. Please be aware that in doing so you will not receive the discounted offer - Farewill
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