Wills & Estate Planning – Evolve Family Law

Solicitor Chris Strogen at Evolve Family Law specialises in Wills and Probate and reflects on the risks of using an unregulated Will writer.

All of us need a Will, whatever our personal or financial circumstances. If you are one of the millions of people in the UK without a Will (or with a Will that is out of date because of life changes, such as a marriage or divorce), then you may question why you need a Will solicitor. Why not do a DIY Will or use a Will writer?

Strictly speaking, you don’t need a Will solicitor. You can write your own Will. However, most people don’t feel confident about doing that, so their Will does not get written. If it does get written, it is an unfortunate fact that most problems in Wills don’t come to light until you have passed away and your relatives are trying to sort your estate out.

A Will writer is another alternative to instructing a specialist Will solicitor. In the UK, Will writing is an unregulated service, and anyone can legally draft a document. Almost anyone can set themselves up as a Will writer and offer to come round to your house or go to see your elderly parent or vulnerable relative and sort out their Will.

You may assume that a Will writer is a good idea as they are cheap. However, that is not always the case. As a specialist Will solicitor, I recently received instructions to sort out a Will. The client had already paid a Will writer to write the Will for him, but the Will had not been completed, and he had no idea what was happening. Frustratingly for the client, the amount he had paid to the Will writer was more than he then paid for a professionally drawn-up Will prepared by a solicitor with over 25 years of experience in writing Wills and providing private client services.

Maybe you think a Will writer would be more convenient than a traditional solicitor? At Evolve Family Law, we will go to see an elderly or vulnerable client who cannot get into our Holmes Chapel or Whitefield offices, or we can take instructions over the phone or online. Professional rules require us to check that the person signing the Will understands the contents, has the capacity to give us instructions, and wants to go ahead with their Will.

Taking the time to carry out those basic checks and ensuring that the Will is properly written and witnessed means that it is less likely that someone who is disappointed in the contents of the Will can challenge it in court and claim a share of the estate.

Why use a Will solicitor? Using a professional can avoid a lot of future heartache and expense and gives you peace of mind.

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