5 reasons to use a solicitor when writing your Will
If you are planning to make a Will, you have probably wondered, “Why use a solicitor? I could just do everything myself.”
- Wording Precision: A solicitor knows how to word a Will to ensure it’s clear & legally valid. If a Will isn’t drafted properly then there may be room for misunderstandings, leading to costly legal disputes and delays in distributing assets.
- Extensive Legal Knowledge: Solicitors possess comprehensive legal knowledge, making them invaluable for both straightforward and complex Wills, advising on Inheritance Tax, trusts, and compliance.
- Asking the Right Questions: Most people only create a Will once or twice in their lives, but a specialist solicitor has advised on hundreds. They can guide you through the process, ensuring the Will genuinely reflects your intentions.
- Comprehensive Services: Law firms with dedicated Wills departments can help with setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney, safely storing the Will, and even acting as the executor.
- Regulation and Accountability: Solicitors in England and Wales are bound by a strict Code of Conduct and are fully regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority. Our regulatory processes make us the safe, reliable choice over other options on the market.
However, just being legally valid isn’t everything. Here are five of the most important reasons to use a Solicitor when making your Will:
1. A solicitor knows how to word a Will
A Will is a legal document and as such, it needs to be planned and written carefully, in valid legal terms. This does not mean it needs long Latin words in every sentence, but it does need to say exactly what you mean, with no room for misunderstanding. We will explain every clause to you.
A Will can be misunderstood, no matter how uncomplicated it may be. One of the shortest Wills on record was written in 1906 and simply said “All to Mother.” Though that seems unarguable, it actually ended up being contested by the man’s wife. The reason was that he sometimes referred to his wife as “Mother”, since she was the mother of his children, so she had grounds for arguing it could refer to her.
A poorly worded Will could end up being both costly and distressing for your heirs. Fighting over a contested Will can mean substantial legal fees, meaning that the inheritance is used to pay costs rather than go on beneficiaries as the deceased would have wanted.
It can also mean considerable delays before the assets are paid out, and this may cause hardship to dependents. Think of how delays could affect different beneficiaries at a time when they are recently bereaved.
A solicitor will recognise all the pitfalls of vague or inaccurate wording and be able to steer you in the right direction.
2. A solicitor has extensive legal knowledge
Some Wills are straightforward, or certainly seem to be. Some Wills are more complex. Either case would benefit from a solicitor’s legal knowledge.
This is more obvious with complex Wills. If, for instance, your estate is likely to be subject to Inheritance Tax, a solicitor will be able to advise you on how best to minimise the effect while remaining entirely compliant with the law.
Other complex circumstances that make a solicitor’s involvement vital include:
- If you want to make arrangements for your business.
- If you need to construct a Trust, for instance for minors or heirs with disabilities,
- If you have children from a previous marriage,
- If you have non-UK investments or properties, in which case the Will needs to be compliant with two or more legal systems.
In any of these cases, a DIY Will or using a will writer puts you at serious risk of bringing up potential problems for your heirs.
At worst, a DIY Will could actually turn out to be invalid, if you are not aware of the precise procedure. This could mean you will die intestate, which can lead to untold complications in the disposal of your estate. Your Will may be genuinely uncomplicated, but having a solicitor work with you means you have peace of mind.
3. A solicitor knows the right questions to ask
Most people only create a Will once or twice in their lives, whereas a specialist solicitor will have advised on hundreds. Many people go into making a Will with a reasonable idea of what they want to achieve, but not always a good idea of how to get there.
A solicitor will sit with you and work through what you are proposing. Needless to say, no reputable solicitor will attempt to influence your decisions, but they will ask questions and offer suggestions to focus your thinking to make sure that the Will really does what you intended.
4. More than just a Will
A law firm with a dedicated Wills department can offer far more than simply writing the Will. You may, for instance, also want to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney, and a solicitor will be able to arrange this at the same time as creating your Will.
Your Will needs to be safely stored and easy to recover when it is required, and that is not always easy, especially if you move several times. It is often more convenient to store your Will with the solicitor, who will keep it safely and be able to produce it quickly and without fuss.
In addition, we offer a professional executorship service. This can help guide families through difficult decisions where it may not be appropriate for family members to be in charge of administering the estate.
5. Solicitors are regulated
The Solicitors Regulation Authority binds Solicitors to a strict Code of Conduct meaning that we operate to the very highest standards.
We can help
At Osborne Morris & Morgan, we have a wealth of experience in helping clients protect their loved ones and put their affairs in order. We are also proud to have been accredited with prestigious accreditations, including the Lexcel Excellence Quality Mark in legal practice management and client care.