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Should I use a solicitor to write my Will?
Why should you have a Will?
A Will is the only way to ensure that your estate passes to the people that you want it to after you die. It can also lessen the burden on your family when it comes to dealing with your estate, as a Will clearly sets out who you wish to deal with everything and where you want everything to go.
“The Will writing industry in 2018 report” has estimated that 45% of people in Great Britain have a Will in place, meaning that more than half of us do not. It is a misconception that you only have to have a Will once you reach a certain age; the horrible reality is that you just never know what will happen and it is always best to prepare for the worst case. You may be in an accident or you may simply put it off for too long and no longer be able to make a Will because you have lost capacity. In fact, this report also estimates that only 26% of parents with children under the age of four years have a Will. When you have young children it is especially important that you make a Will, not only to make provision for them, but to also set up trusts and appoint guardians.
It has been reported in the news recently that the late Aretha Franklin, who passed away in August 2018, may not have died intestate (without a Will) as first thought, but she may have left three handwritten Wills. This has resulted in the following difficult issues arising;
a) whether the Wills are even valid; and
b) just what her wishes were in those Wills. There is currently a legal dispute between her four sons to decide what will happen next and who is entitled to what.
Why should a solicitor prepare your Will?
If a Will is not drafted correctly then you are leaving it open to be contested in the future. The sorts of things that can question a Will’s validity are:
- Whether it is executed properly;
- Whether you had capacity when you made the Will;
- Undue influence;
- Lack of knowledge and approval; and
- Fraud and forgery.
Contesting a Will can also be very costly to both the estate and the person contesting the Will. So while some people choose to prepare their own Will to save money in the short term it could actually end up costing them far more in the long term.
The Aretha Franklin case has highlighted the importance of not only having Wills but ensuring that they are drafted correctly. The main problem with home drafted Wills is that you do not receive the appropriate advice and the Wills are not drafted in a coherent legal manner and are often not executed properly (i.e. with two in independent witnesses).
Another problem with home drafted Wills is that they may be “easier” to contest. This is because when you visit a solicitor to draft your Will they will prepare a detailed attendance note of the meeting detailing why you are doing what you are doing, so, for example, why you are leaving a certain person out of your Will. Solicitors will also assess whether you have capacity to make a new Will and indeed would not even take you on as a client if they did not think you had capacity. The solicitor will assess whether you understand what you are doing and the implications and ensure that nobody is influencing you to do certain things in your Will. The benefit of this is that if anyone were to dispute your Will when you pass away, the solicitor can produce this file to the Court to show that they deemed you to have the relevant capacity and the reasons behind your wishes.
Solicitors can also provide advice on tax, long term care planning and trusts. It is these elements that, if you do not receive the appropriate advice, you will not be able to benefit from and your Will may not necessarily achieve what you think it is.
There are many benefits to having a professionally drafted Will and the advice that you will receive can be invaluable when it comes to planning for the future. At HCB our specialist Wills Solicitors pride themselves on their friendly service and strive to make preparing a Will a stress free experience. If you would like to discuss Wills in more details please contact us. Our contact details and more information about getting a Will can be found here: https://www.hcbgroup.com/site/contact/cardiff/will-solicitors-in-cardiff/