We review free online will services

Everyone should have a will to make sure that their assets go to the right people, without delay. The good news is that you can draw up your will online – and for free.  We investigated some of these services to find out exactly what they offer, what they cost and if they are suitable for you.

Using an insurers’ online service to draft your will

We looked at: The online will services of Metropolitan, Momentum and Sanlam. You can check with other insurers to see what they offer.

How does it work? You may need to create a sign-in (username and password) to access the service, which is easy and quick. You answer a number of questions and fill in details such as your full name and ID number, and the address of any property you own. When you’ve answered all the questions, your will is automatically generated, and you can download and print it. You need to date and sign your will and have it witnessed (signed and dated) by two people.

How long does it take? It depends. If you have no children and only a few assets such as a home and a retirement savings account, you can have your will in less than 10 minutes. It will take longer if you have children and/or many investments as there are more questions to answer, such as who do you nominate as your children’s guardian.

Is it free? Sort of. Many companies draw up a will for free, but require you to nominate them as executor, or at least co-executor, of your will. The executor makes sure your wishes are followed and winds down your estate (sells your assets and distributes the proceeds, after paying debts, to your heirs). Executors are paid a fee of 3.5% of the gross value of assets for this service. Some companies, for example Sanlam, charge a small fee (R50) to draft and store a will.

Our experience: Drafting your will is quick and easy. The companies we investigated offer good services and have online tools and tips to guide you through the questions. But they are impersonal – you probably won’t know anyone at the company or the executor. As you will be giving personal details such as ID numbers, addresses and details of property and investments, we preferred the options that required a sign-in, for example Momentum.

Who is it suitable for? These services are a good option if you have few assets and few beneficiaries. And if you don’t know who to name as executor it may make sense to draft a will with a company who will act as executor. However, if you have a complex estate, for example you have children from different relationships and own several businesses, you may need a one-on-one consultation with an estate planning expert.

What about online companies that draft wills?

We also investigated Smartwill and iLawyer, who offer a will drafting service. Like those available from the insurers, we looked at, you share your personal information and details of your assets, and your will is generated online. However, these companies usually allow you to choose your own executor and offer personalised advice when you are completing your will. There is a charge for these services (R399 – R500).

Are there online services that offer more than just drafting a will?

Most of the companies and services we looked at offered only will drafting and executor services. The Truth About Money’s wills and estate benefit not only helps you draw up a will for you and your spouse, it also assists with winding up your estate and offers legal advice to your family after your passing. This includes help with any disputes arising from your will. It’s available to successful applicants at no charge and is a good option to consider as it offers more than just the basics of will drafting. Learn more about the benefit here.

 

Truth About Money's Wills & Estate Benefit, so much more than just a free will

The bottom line

These online services will work well for many South Africans who need a will. Investigate a few options to see what will suit you. Remember to take your time when you answer questions online and read through your will when it is complete to make sure it accurately reflects your wishes.

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