Why make a Will?
Making a Will and keeping it up to date is the best way to ensure your family and dependants experience the minimum of problems in the event of your death. Only by making a Will can you be confident your estate passes to those you want to benefit such as your family and friends. If you have children under eighteen, the appointment of a guardian to care for them is also essential.
Also, consider whether there are any special items you would want particular people to have. If you have special wishes about a burial or cremation your Will is the safest way of recording them.
A Will is a key element in financial and tax planning. Arranging your affairs properly in your Will can substantially mitigate your Inheritance Tax liability and ease the burden to your family.
If you own your business a Will can ensure a smooth transition of its ownership or sale after your death – this is vital in ensuring its continued success in the hands of its successors.
A regular review of your Will is essential if it is to properly take account of and address all the issues relevant to your estate.
In particular it should be reviewed if:
- You become a parent or grandparent
- You move house
- You retire
- You receive an inheritance
- You lose a family member
- You are worried about the costs of care home fees diminishing your estate
In addition there can be changes of which you may be unaware such as Inheritance Tax rules.
We have produced a number of handy guides to help you when making a Will.
Why should I use a Solicitor to make a Will?
It is true that you do not need to come to a solicitor to prepare a Will. There are various Will writing companies who are cheaper (although there are others that are a lot more expensive) or you could buy a Will making kit and prepare the Will yourself.
However, solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and have to undergo regular training to ensure that they are kept up to date with legal changes. To become a solicitor you have to complete six to seven years of study and training, whereas many Will Writers have no recognised legal qualifications. Whilst they are unregulated, they can register with certain organisations but this is not compulsory.
In the unlikely event of a mistake being made in the drafting of a Will, solicitors must have Indemnity Insurance to ensure that any compensation due to be paid is done so. This is not the case with Will Writers so the firm may not have sufficient funds to compensate people fully.
If a firm of solicitors moves offices, merges with another firm or ceases trading, the Law Society keeps records to ensure that they let you know where your Will is being held. This is not the case for Will Writers; there have been many cases where people have been unable to locate their Wills when firms close.
Most homemade Wills are valid but when they go wrong, they usually go wrong spectacularly. We have seen cases where an estate passed to over 40 distant family members all over the world because of a badly drafted Will. The costs of trying to trace the family members were 30 times more than the costs of making a Will with a solicitor.
Whilst it is true that the majority of Wills prepared by Will Writers and those made at home are valid, a Will prepared by a solicitor provides more security should things go wrong.
Andrew Robertson is on Mencap’s Wills and Trusts Service’s list of recommended solicitors to parents and carers of children with a learning disability, and is able to offer advice to parents and carers who are considering making their Wills to plan for the future of their vulnerable child. For more information about Mencap’s Wills and Trusts Service, please take a look at: www.mencap.org.uk/willsandtrusts
Unlike some other solicitors, we do not charge for home visits for housebound clients as we do not see why disabled clients should pay more because they are unable to attend our offices through no fault of their own.
Click on the download link to the right to obtain a copy of our preliminary Will Instruction Form. The form asks all the basic questions for a simple will. Fill the form in and bring it with you to your interview, when you have arranged one.