You might ask “why use a solicitor to prepare my Will?”
A better question might be “what are the risks to my loved ones if I do not?”
Often people prefer not to use a solicitor to put in place a Will because upfront costs appear higher than the cost (if any) of preparing a DIY Will. However, these additional costs are often substantially less than the costs which can be involved in putting a poorly drafted Will right.
What can go wrong?
Problems with poorly drafted Wills may only come to light after the testator has died – when it can be too late to correct them. These are some situations we have recently encountered:
• A gift to grandchildren requiring them to reach a certain age before inheriting, but which meant certain tax allowances were no longer available. The additional potential tax on the estate was thousands of pounds.
• Using a non-standard attestation clause (the clause which confirms the Will has been validly executed). The Probate Registry rejected the Will, requiring an affidavit from the witnesses.
• Failing to properly specify that a gift of money should take effect only on the death of the second spouse, so the gift took effect twice instead of once.
• A blank section left on one page of the Will, with a reference at the bottom not shown on any other page. The Probate Registry required further evidence by affidavit to confirm the page had not been inserted into the Will.
• Having no evidence to defend a claim that the testator lacked mental capacity, because the testator had made the Will alone and there was no professional evidence available to confirm capacity.
• Not putting in place an appropriate trust structure, which would have preserved the assets of the first spouse to die from being used up on care home fees for the surviving spouse.
• Failing to state that a Will was made in contemplation of marriage, so it was inadvertently revoked on a subsequent marriage.
• Attempting to gift assets in the Will without putting in place the correct legal formalities to prevent those assets automatically passing to other people.
If there are problems with a Will, the Estate’s beneficiaries might have a claim against a professional who drafted the Will. Solicitors are obliged to have insurance to meet claims and are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. In contrast, a DIY Will can leave your loved ones without cover for legal bills which might be incurred to put any inadvertent mistakes right. It is also important to note that professional Will writers who are not practising solicitors, do not need to be insured or regulated.
If you are considering making a Will, please talk to us. We offer fixed fees (published on our website) which cover meeting with you, drafting your Will, checking capacity issues, explaining the contents of the Will and supervising proper signing. We also safely store our clients’ Wills free of charge.
To make an appointment with Charlotte please call 01252 811070.