Wills and Probate

Why do I need one?

There is one very obvious but seldom expressed reason why one should leave a Will, and it sounds trite – but it needs saying. You should make a Will because, bluntly, one day you are going to die – and it is the responsible thing to do to leave things in good order for those left behind.

But I want my assets to go to my next of kin so can I not simply rely on the laws of intestacy to ensure that that happens?

The laws of intestacy are currently being reviewed. The existing law is complex and depending upon your circumstances the regulations may but more probably will not produce the result you want.

So what can a Will achieve for me?

I want to save money. I have seen ‘DIY’ Will kits advertised in the press and at the newsagents. Why should I not use one of those?

Because, for most people, the use of these is ‘penny wise, pound foolish’! It is not so much what you do say on the forms as what you omit that can have dire consequences in both how the estate is distributed and what tax will be payable. If you get it wrong (and in over thirty years of practice I have seen literally dozens of heart-breaking problems caused by poorly drafted home-made Wills) there is no comeback for those who suffer as a result of the errors made. And even where the faults can be remedied it will cost a great deal more to sort them out than the money ‘saved’ by not having the Will properly drawn in the first place.

I have heard that Will-Writers are cheaper than solicitors.

Some are, but by no means all. – And as the law stands anyone can set themselves up as a Will – Writer even if they have no experience at all. Of those who are ‘trained’ many attend the briefest of courses – sometimes only a day – before starting in practice – and there is no requirement that they carry any sort of indemnity cover, so if something does go wrong the chances are that you will receive little or more probably no compensation.

Solicitors train for a minimum of five years for a reason! The laws governing Wills, Trusts and Succession are very complex and it is easy to get things wrong if one does not understand how they interact. Solicitors specialising in ‘Private Client’ law understand the pitfalls to avoid in drafting an efficient Will and what legislation can be used to the maximum advantage of their client and their particular situation. We are regulated by our professional body, the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, who ensure that proper standards are maintained – and we are obliged by law to carry substantial indemnity insurance so that, if an error should be made, anyone disadvantaged can be properly compensated.

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