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Do you need a lawyer to write a Will?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

The simple answer…is no.

There is no legal requirement for you to use a lawyer to write your Will, but paying for a professionally drafted Will shouldn’t be thought of as something you buy on price…like an online shopping service or buying a DIY Will kit.

The real question you should be asking is SHOULD I instruct a lawyer to write my Will?

The answer here is without a doubt YES. Let’s explore why.

A lawyer can structure your Will in the most tax efficient way possible.

Nobody likes paying tax and with the current inheritance tax rate sitting at 40%, your loved ones could be looking at a big tax bill after you pass away.

Instructing a lawyer ensures you receive up to date tax planning advice that could save your estate a huge amount by carefully rewording a few clauses in your Will or by adding in a couple more.

As part of your Will drafting, if appropriate to your circumstances, we ensure that you are properly advised on the possibility of creating trusts on your death.

Trusts are often complex legal devices that can be drafted into Wills to kick in on your death, minimising future inheritance tax payments.

Lawyers can draft your Will to plan for all eventualities. For example, a lot of people are unaware that if you get married after creating a Will, that Will will be immediately revoked unless it has been drafted specifically to prepare for that eventuality.

Another common eventuality that homemade Wills fail to plan for, is what will happen to a gift or share you leave to someone if they pass away before you. The law will automatically deal with it in one way or another, but again this may not be in accordance with your wishes.

A further scenario you may not have considered – is what will happen if there is not enough money left in your estate to pay all the people you have left money to? Without the correct drafting, your beneficiaries will be left to the rules of ‘abatement’ and will all see their gifts reduced.  With legal advice we can help you plan for the scenario and draft in additional clauses to allow some gifts to be paid out in full in priority of others.

Using a lawyer can minimise future claims against your estate.

It is your estate, you can do as you please with it right? Not necessarily.

It is not common knowledge that “Cutting people out” of your Will can prompt a claim against your estate from that disgruntled person.

If you plan on cutting a close family member or someone dependent on you out of your Will, you may not have considered that those people may be able to successfully challenge your Will in court.

Instructing a lawyer to draft your Will comes with all the advice you need to ensure that the chances of this happening are greatly minimised.

A lawyer will ensure your Will does exactly what you want it to.

It is quite easy to fall into the trap of copying a Will clause from the internet into your own Will believing it to mean one thing, when in reality it is has a completely different effect. Using a lawyer ensures that each clause you include in your Will has been tailored to reflect your exact individual wishes.

We often see clauses in homemade Wills that take no effect whatsoever owing to them being used in the wrong context.

You do not necessarily know what you own.

It sounds like a strange statement to make, but time and time again we see Wills come in that attempt to give away something that the testator does not have the power to give.

It could be something as simple as property, many clients are unaware that there are multiple ways of legally owning property together. Only one of these ways enables you to pass on a distinct share in that property to whomever you choose.

By visiting a lawyer to draft your Will, we will talk you through all of the assets in your estate and ensure that you are able to pass them in accordance with your wishes.

A lawyer will make sure your Will is definitely valid.

A Will that has been made without the help of a lawyer risks the ultimate punishment – that it will be declared invalid and will hold no legal significance at all.

There are various rules that must be followed to ensure a Will is validly executed and the slightest deviation from the rules can cause a legal headache for your loved ones after you die.

Likewise if you wish to make amendments to your Will in the future, these must follow strict rules of execution to be valid.

If your Will is declared invalid your estate will pass on in accordance with the government set intestacy rules and your wishes will not be accounted for.

What’s the conclusion?

Using a lawyer to draft your Will is far more than just getting an experienced expert to write it for you. It is inheritance tax advice, trusts advice, protection against future claims in your estate, guaranteed validity and peace of mind that your wishes will be completely followed – all rolled in to one. Not to mention a solicitor’s office is an incredibly safe place to store your Will!

Using a lawyer to create your Will is not strictly necessary, and it may seem tempting to avoid one to save yourself the fees, but the amount of money that your estate can eat up sorting out all of the above issues that may crop up, makes the cost of a lawyer at the outset seem wholly insignificant.

You can write your own Will, but we’d recommend you don’t, and before you say to yourself “well, they would say that wouldn’t they“, it’s a fact: lawyers stand to make a lot more from sorting out the effects of a badly written or a disputed Will than they do from writing one.

George Iles

Posted:

George Iles

Trainee Solicitor

George is a Trainee Solicitor currently working with the Corporate & Commercial team.