We have launched a new page on our site - DIY wills! We are sure you will enjoy this page!
If you think that banks can offer good value for your will, think again. Research suggests that many banks charge a whopping 3-5% when you die, as they will write themselves in to act as the executors. Not only can probate be quite simple, but even solicitors charge half of this amount. You can also get help from probate specialists, who can charge hourly, advising clients only when they need help.
If you have had your will written by a bank, consider the cost to your family when you die. We are happy to investigate your will for free, and give our thoughts on the consequences of your will.
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If you ask someone the top three statistics they remember, one of them will be likely to include only one in seven people have a will. The truth may be a lower figure now, due to the increasing number of places that people can easily get a will from. This can include solicitors, professional willwriters, banks, via the internet, and of course in paper shops via ready to complete standard wills.
People are however still reluctant to get a will, usually making the excuse that they 'don't care who gets it', or that 'of course my family will get it, with or without a will'. This is fair enough. But it is usually not fair on the people left behind. The people who usually rush to get a will are those who have just experienced loved ones dying without a will.
A client of mine lost their brother, who it seems, died without a will. Nobody could remember talking about it, and after a few weeks searching, realised that it would never be found even if there was one. This meant that nobody knew what the brother wanted, despite of course having a family. It also transpired that the dead brother had no life insurance, and despite having buy to lets, these were doing badly in terms of capital losses and bad rents, and so had to be sold quickly. Out of the blue, a woman turned up with the brother's (and husband's) child. This new party then had the right to place themselves at the middle of proceedings, in sorting out the estate of the dead man.
I remember very clearly the sister saying that each relative swore that they would get a will as soon as they could. They would not want anyone to go through what they had to, which included making arrangements for the funeral, sorting out some complex affairs, having to use the intestacy process to distribute what was left, ensuring a guardian was available for the children and nominating who should organise their affairs after they die.
Wills are there to protect your family. One increasingly common clause for a will, is where a share in a property is given to the surviving spouse/partner for their life, to revert back to their children when the survivor dies. This can be a great way of ensuring your children inherit the original estate. An example of what can happen (and does happen regularly) is when the surviving spouse/partner re-marries and then dies before the new spouse/partner. If the whole estate has passed to the survivor, the new spouse/partner can take the whole estate and leave it to their own family, cutting out the original children. This is often devastating for the children, not necessarily just because of the financial loss, but because they know this is not what their parents would have wanted to happen.
These then, are just a few reasons why you should be thinking of getting a will. It is also important to check your will periodically, to see if it should be amended or improved.
It is estimated that only 1 in 7 people have a will. Or at least that is the vague figure that is often quoted. As a willwriter in Royston and Hertfordshire, it must be a great business to be in when there are so many people who needs a will. Statistically this might be true (and the figure could be even higher for people who need a revised will as well) but there are many reasons why people do not take a will.
Firstly there is the reasoning that my family will get it all if I die, so they can sort out the paperwork when I am gone. Eventually this might be true, but these people will leave their families with a lot of sorting out to do, more trips to solicitors or probate specialists, and the added grief that they have to sort out what could have been easily sorted earlier.
Secondly, there is the excuse that they do not care where the money goes. Again, this is fine, but somebody has to sort everything out. Your family will have more to do again. Of course, if you don't have a family, or any living relatives, then you must be happy for the state to have everything? Would you rather leave it all to a good cause instead? If so there are charities who can help for free, where they are the beneficiaries.
Thirdly, there are the other excuses including 'I don't have anything to leave', 'I am too young', 'I don't trust solicitors', or 'I can't afford one'. Let me reassure you that you are never too young (well, once you are 18!), it's not about what you leave, it is to ensure things get sorted more quickly, if you don't trust a solicitor, see a willwriter! Of course, if you can't afford one, you may be able to get a free will. Please contact me for more details.
The bottom line is, get a will - there is no point thinking there is safety in numbers - i.e. 6 out of 7.
This may be contentious! Solicitors are well known as people to use to make a will. They have legal training and are clever people to be a solicitor in the first place. However, they are not the only the choice, and are not always the best choice. A professional will writer will create wills for clients as their main business. So long as they have key things in place such as indemnity insurance, a code of conduct, professional training and are part of an organisation that is there to protect consumers, then there should be little concern about using this other professional.
Indeed, a colleague of mine has acted for clients when they have been let down by solicitors, so being a solicitor is no guarantee of getting it done perfectly.
So whoever you choose, ask if will writing is their speciality, how they keep on top of changes of things like the law, and whether they have had a claim of negligence against them (if yes, how many!).
Oliver has a mixed background in law and financial services, and he is focussed on providing will writing and other will services to our clients. The business expanded from a small regional business into a business with national coverage via video and with local consultants where possible.