The death of a loved one is always an upsetting and emotional time for those left behind. One of the first things that family members look for is a loved one’s Will so that they can fulfil their wishes. You can help by ensuring that you leave a Will which accurately and unambiguously reflects your wishes with respect to your personal items, home and other assets. It is, of course, essential that the Will is legally valid as discovering that the Will they are relying on is invalid is upsetting for everyone and will mean that your estate passes in accordance with the intestacy rules rather than your personal wishes.
There are various online tools and templates available for drafting a Will and a plethora of individuals and companies offering to prepare a cheap Will. Before you go down that route, please stop and think about whether you really want to entrust such an important document to someone without formal legal qualifications. Enlisting the expertise of a qualified solicitor can provide you with the peace of mind that your final wishes will be executed accurately and without complications.
1. The Complexity of Estate Planning and Will Drafting for Your Unique Situation:
Estate planning is a broad and complex area. A solicitor with experience in this area can advise you in relation to your individual family and financial circumstances and can address tax implications, possible challenges, capacity issues, guardianship, disabled beneficiaries, asset distribution and overseas interests amongst other circumstances.
This customized approach means your Will will accurately reflect your intentions, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings or challenges down the road.
2. Avoiding Mistakenly Signing an Invalid Will:
A DIY approach to Will preparation can lead to errors or omissions that render your Will ambiguous, or worse still completely invalid.
A solicitor will be able to ensure that your Will conforms to legal requirements and that you have the necessary capacity to sign the document. A solicitor will keep notes of your instructions and should only allow you to sign a Will if they consider that you have testamentary capacity and should, therefore, be willing to give evidence of that fact if asked to do so after your death.
3. Ensuring Proper Executor Appointment:
Deciding who to appoint as your Executor(s) is a vital part of making your Will and you should take into account factors such as the executor’s ability to carry out your wishes, their availability, and their impartiality. A Solicitor can often advise you on the suitability of particular Executors and, if you do not wish to leave the task to friends or family, then many firms will allow you to appoint the partners or directors of that firm, which will ensure complete professionalism and impartiality.
4. Addressing Complex Family Situations:
Families today often encompass diverse structures, including stepchildren, blended families, and dependents or relatives with special needs or complex financial circumstances. A Solicitor will have experience navigating complex family dynamics, ensuring that your Will accommodates the unique circumstances of your loved ones. This may include setting up life interest, discretionary or disabled trusts, guardianships, and other provisions to safeguard vulnerable beneficiaries.
5. Cost Transparency:
Solicitors may offer you a fixed price Will or quote an hourly rate. The Solicitors Regulatory Society guidelines provide that Solicitors must be transparent in their pricing and you will be sent terms and conditions to sign up to before work will be done. These are your legal protection and you should always read them carefully. A Solicitor cannot incur unauthorised costs nor should they go beyond your instructions without prior approval.
6. Regular Review and Updates:
Life is dynamic, and so are your financial and personal circumstances. A solicitor can help establish a routine for reviewing and updating your Will to reflect any changes, such as marriage, divorce, birth of children, or acquisition of new assets. This proactive approach will ensure that your Will remains current and effective throughout the various stages of your life.
Solicitors firms are regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and have to hold insurance. All practising Solicitors must hold a Practising Certificate which is renewed annually and may be struck off if they act illegally or inappropriately. This means that if you instruct a Solicitor to prepare your Will and the firm closes or merges with another, whether suddenly or planned, former clients will be able to approach the Solicitor’s Regulatory Authority will either have taken custody of their files and documents or be able to advise you who has. In the unusual situation that the Will has not been properly drafted or executed, the Solicitor’s liability insurance will offer a legal remedy for your Beneficiaries. Unfortunately many will writing firms will not be able to offer such traceability or security.
While we all like a bargain and the allure of online Will templates and will writers who will prepare your Will for a tiny sum may seem tempting, please stop and think. Some questions to ask yourself might include:
- Will the fee really be that low or will there be multiple add-ons?
- Will you be advised on how to best achieve your objectives?
- Will you understand what your Will means?
- Will it be accurate?
- Will it have been checked to ensure it has been properly executed
- Will your Beneficiaries have anything to fall back on if something goes wrong?
The peace of mind that comes with using a solicitor to prepare your Will is unparalleled. Their expertise, attention to detail, and ability to navigate complex legal issues will ensure that your final wishes are executed precisely as intended. Don’t leave the distribution of your assets and the well-being of your loved ones to chance—consulting a solicitor for your Will preparation is an investment in the future security of your estate.