The Kings Court Trust (KCT) survey reveals that less than half of UK adults have a will. The majority of will instructions I receive from clients often come from the elderly or those suffering from life limiting illnesses. Very rarely do I receive instructions from young couples who may have recently married and/or had children. Participation in various will charity schemes has certainly increased the awareness of will making; however we are still a long way off and the survey is further evidence of this.
Frequently I am instructed by clients who have attempted to draft a DIY will using a pack from the internet. The danger in doing this is that you have no way of knowing for certain if the will is valid and if it will be upheld as such when you die. Clients have also frequently instructed me after they have previously instructed a will writer or other non-professionals who claim to have the relevant qualifications for will drafting. If the will has not been properly drafted, there is little to no recourse, which means you will have no protection. This may only be discovered after the testator’s death.
Instructing a solicitor can offer greater protection in that regard. The most prudent approach for anyone considering making a will is to instruct a specialist solicitor and ideally to make a will before awaiting a triggering event such as illness. You will be reassured to know that, since solicitors are regulated, there would be recourse for both the testator, whilst they are alive, and for the beneficiaries, if they are not, in the event that a will proves invalid.
The KCT survey also highlights how much misinformation there is. For instance, the circumstances in which a previous will may be revoked and the misconception that under the law unmarried couples who haven’t made a will shall automatically inherit should the other perish. This is of course not the case and the misunderstandings can lead to a very complicated and costly situation following death. It is for the above reasons that you should instruct a solicitor to either make a will, if you have not already done so, or to review the will you currently have, to ensure any change in circumstances have been updated accordingly.
Author, Caroline Roche, is a solicitor and Director in the wills and probate department at Duncan Lewis. Her specialist experience includes, drafting complex wills; advising on inheritance tax due from an estate; gathering the estate when a loved-one has passed; dealing with both taxable and non-taxable estates, handling the affairs when a loved-one has died without a will.
Duncan Lewis Wills & Probate Solicitors
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