Wills – getting them done properly
The importance of writing a will is a topic that is often addressed – but as well as the process of documenting your wishes, of equal importance is ensuring it is done properly.
Failure to write a will in a proper manner and in accordance with the Wills Act 1837 could lead to disputes or even negligence claims after death. This can be a long and expensive process to correct, particularly as the person whose wishes are contained in the will is no longer with us, so it is vital it is prepared properly.
Wills are important and often complex documents which, done by someone without the specialist knowledge and experience, can be prone to errors in content and procedure. For example, with homemade wills, people often do not realise that when a beneficiary witnesses a will, they then lose their entitlement under the will.
Mistakes can also be made through a will not being properly prepared – I once saw a will where the deceased had wanted the neurology department of a hospital to receive a gift, but the wording used was urology by mistake. This fairly minor error led to quite a process to resolve the issue.
Furthermore, it is essential that steps are taken to ensure the testator has mental capacity to prepare the will. A solicitor will want to involve a doctor if there is any doubt, thus saving any confusion or arguments afterwards, and will also want to be assured that the testator has not been influenced by anyone in the preparation of the will, for example, by ensuring they take instructions without anyone else present.
It remains the best option to use a solicitor to write a will. Although there are many unregulated professions, like will writers, who may be a cheaper option, there can be some major pitfalls. One of many well-documented cases reported how a £90 will allegedly deprived a daughter of half of her stake in her late father’s home, as a result of the document being too simplistic.
Throughout my career, I have vast experience in handling disputes over poorly drafted wills, and have also handled many negligence claims through dealing with problems that have arisen after death.
Through instructing a specialist solicitor, you can be safe in the knowledge that your will is being done competently by someone with the experience and capability to guide you through the process.
Jonathan Grogan is a specialist wills and probate solicitor at Newcastle law firm Sintons. To speak to him about this or any other matter, contact Jonathan on 0191 226 3644 or firstname.lastname@example.org.