It is believed that 40% of adults do not currently have a Will.

Individuals may not have a Will for many reasons; a few include:

  1. Fear of tempting fate (although statistically speaking, there is no evidence of correlation between writing a Will and premature death);
  2. Believing you won’t need one;
  3. Reluctance to incur the legal cost that comes with instructing a solicitor; or
  4. Simply not getting round to it.

There are also those individuals who opt to write a Will themselves. Although this may seem to be a cheaper option, this could be as risky as having no Will at all, and might even result in a worse situation than having no Will at all.

Even in the most straightforward cases, a DIY Will still carries the risk of being rendered invalid.  If instead you instruct a solicitor, they will ensure that all legal requirements of a Will are adhered to and you will there avoid pitfalls as signing and witnessing the Will incorrectly.  The rules surrounding execution of Wills are not as straightforward as you may think.

By way of illustration, below are two examples of recent cases that Parker Bullen LLP have dealt with where there was a DIY Will.

Client A

Client A’s DIY Will left a cash legacy in favour of her brother.  However, since her brother’s wife acted as a witness to Client A’s signature, Client A’s gift to her brother was invalid.

Client B

Client B signed her Will and her grandson then took it to a neighbour who signed the Will as a witness.  Client B’s Will left her estate to one of her children since she did not have a good relationship with her other child who was excluded from her Will.  Because the Will was not signed and witnessed correctly it was invalid.  The Intestacy Rules therefore came into play and determined who benefitted from her estate which was divided equally between her two children.  This was not the result that Client B had wanted.  Therefore, the costs in dealing with resolving the contentious aspects were also far in excess of what the Will would have cost if it had been prepared by a solicitor initially.

Where there is no valid Will in place upon death, the Intestacy Rules will decide how assets are dealt with. It is particularly important to avoid this eventuality in the following instances:

  • Couples who have just bought a property together but are not married or in a civil partnership.  In those circumstances, the lack of a Will means the survivor will not have a claim to the estate of their deceased partner under the intestacy rules if they have not yet lived in the house for 2 years.
  • Those with young children should have Wills in order to stipulate whom they wish to act as Testamentary Guardians to look after the children if anything were to happen to them, rather than leaving this entirely to the Court.

It is also of vital importance to review your Will when your circumstances change.  More specifically, getting married will revoke your Will, and getting divorced will alter your Will significantly.

At Parker Bullen LLP, our Private Client team has a wealth of expertise in all areas of Will writing.  With growing teams in both Salisbury and Andover, we are able to offer a friendly Will writing service with Inheritance Tax advice where necessary.  To make an enquiry, please call us on 01722 412000.

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