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The Pitfalls of Will-making

by David Endicott | Dec 03, 2013
A Will is probably the most important document you will ever sign, so it pays to get it right.  I would urge you to instruct a solicitor, preferably a member of STEP (the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners), rather than a Bank or Will writer who are, in my experience, far more expensive than solicitors, less qualified and, particularly with Will writers, I would go so far as to say under-qualified and often uninsured if and when things go wrong.

Here are two real-life examples.  Firstly, a case involving a Bank which prepared Wills for a husband and wife simply leaving their estates to one another.   All was fine on the first death, because when the husband passed away his estate went to his wife under his Will.  However, when the wife died she left her estate to the late husband who had predeceased her, thus the Will was in vain and her estate passed to relatives all of whom, I suspect, she would have joyfully disinherited.

The second matter is ongoing.  In this case, a Will writer charged £1,000 for a Will (in similar circumstances we would have charged £160).  Shortly after the Will was prepared the Will writer went out of business and was uninsured.  On the death of the testator it was discovered that he left his PA more than his wife (admittedly there were matrimonial problems, but even so!).  The Will writer delivered the Will by hand, and apparently stood back while the PA witnessed the Will, the effect being that she lost her legacy.   The Will took no account of the wife’s rights under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, and so the estate is taxable where it should not be and the wife has instructed her own solicitors to sue the estate.

A qualified solicitor would have avoided these problems, taken full instructions and given proper advice.  In both cases additional expense has been incurred unnecessarily, and in the second case will continue to be incurred until the matter has been resolved.  The time scale and cost is anybody’s guess.

Good, well drafted Wills do not need to be complex, nor do they need to be expensive.  We charge £160 plus VAT for a basic individual Will, and just £200 plus Vat for a joint Will. The testator must think carefully about what he or she wants to do, and their adviser will use their training and experience to achieve the testator’s wishes and will, where necessary, offer expert advice.

If you would like further information on Wills, please contact David Endicott, Managing Partner at Spratt Endicott Solicitors, on 01295 204005 or email dendicott@se-law.co.uk.