New year, new will: make your New Year’s resolution to ensure your will is up to date and properly drafted

5th January 2023

This New Year brings new opportunities and most of us will have a ‘to do’ list for the year. For many, having a will drafted has been on that list for several years now. We urge you to make this the year where you plan for the future by making a will and looking at your inheritance tax position.

You may think that your affairs are too simple to warrant seeking legal advice. Nevertheless, a homemade will can present several difficulties. In this article we look at three reasons why you should use a solicitor to write your will.

It will be a valid document

A will is only valid if it has been properly drafted, signed and witnessed in accordance with the Wills Act 1837. There are also important considerations surrounding the will-maker’s mental capacity and whether they understand the contents of their will.

If a will is found to be invalid after you die, significant problems arise. It may be that your loved ones, whom you wanted to benefit, receive considerably less or nothing at all. You can put your mind at rest by using a solicitor to draft your will and ensure it is validly executed.

A solicitor will ask the right questions for your situation

One of the key benefits of using a solicitor begins prior to writing the will. A solicitor will use the process of writing your will to discuss estate planning with you. A solicitor will consider key issues such as mitigating potential inheritance tax and including provisions which protect your estate for future generations. Furthermore, if you have complex family structures, for example a second marriage, business or agricultural assets, a solicitor can advise you on the best way to protect these.

Can you afford not to?

A common misconception is that having a will professionally drafted is too expensive.

If you do not have a will, the rules of intestacy will apply. This means that those who you want to benefit from your will may not. The process is also more cumbersome and is much more likely to require input from solicitors.

Having a poorly drafted will, for example one which does not dispose of all of your assets, or leaves ambiguity, can be even worse than having no will at all. Where people leave poorly drafted wills, we have seen bereaved families descend into arguments, estrangement and even court applications. Sadly, we are seeing an increase in poorly drafted wills, prepared by unregulated will writers.

In either of the above scenarios, dealing with your estate is likely to be far more costly and time-consuming than if a properly drafted will had been put in place.

We urge you, this New Year, to obtain legal advice so that you have the peace of mind that an avoidable mess has been avoided.

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