Home-made Wills

A discussion forum for the elderly, their carers and advisers

Home-made Wills

Postby Conveyancer » Sat Oct 29, 2005 10:05 pm

Resist the temptation to draw up your own will, however simple. 90% of litigation over wills is over home-made wills. Go and see a solicitor. Apart from anything else, if after you die your will is produced from the custody of your solicitor there is less chance of it being challenged (unless of course you leave everything to your solicitor!).

If you are married and want everything to go to your wife do not rely on the intestacy rules to deal with your estate and assume that everything will go to her - see here http://www.gardenlaw.co.uk/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1871

If you are not married and do not want your estate to be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules it is vital to make a will. Do not delay - make an appointment with a solicitor tomorow!
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Postby Pennyfarthing » Sun Oct 30, 2005 11:28 am

Hi Conveyancer - I think more people would do this if they could find a solicitor they could trust to deal with things promtly and thoroughly. When my father in law died about 20 years ago he left a will, very straightforward, saying that everything was to go to his wife. Bank accounts etc were in their joint names and she had to wait a seriously long time before she was able to get any cash. English was not her first language either and she found the whole process very frustrating.

Now, I have absolutely nothing against Conveyancers. Every house we have ever bought or sold we have had a solicitor but this last sale/purchase I found a Licensed Conveyancer who did the whole job beautifully, quickly and for about a quarter of what any local solicitors had quoted me. I could not fault his service in any way. When I asked the solicitors who gave me quotes why there prices were so high, I got answers like "with us you get personal service". :roll: :?
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Postby gardenlaw » Sun Oct 30, 2005 12:27 pm

I have no real axe to grind, but in my area Licensed Conveyancers and Solicitors are competing in the same market place and so charges are more or less the same. Solicitors thrive on recommendation so have to do a good job, as do Licensed Conveyancers. Anyway isn't the estate agents charges that are high being usually 4 to 10 times more yet they do not carry anything like the responsibility -- or the insurance premiums?

I agree with Conveyancer. A will is probably the most important document you will ever make. It sets out wishes that you cannot come back and change. People do not seem to view it in this way. Lawyers certainly do see situations in families arise because of a lack of a will. People seem to think that by saying "all this will be your's" or the like that is what will happen. It won't. They should face this fact and make a will. It can easily be changed if your circumstances change.

When someone dies it is not the will that causes delay. You cannot escape the Inland Revenue, even if there is no Inheritance Tax to pay. Probate has to be obtained if you leave more than £5000 and it can be gathering together the financial details that takes the time.
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Postby Beech » Sun Oct 30, 2005 11:32 pm

Having had to help deal with the 'estates' (none large) of more than one relative who decided that intestacy was better than telling everybody what they wanted to happen after they died, and only one who had the forethought to realise that a will is a good idea, I know which I prefer.

They all took a long time to clear, but it was far easier with a Will.

It's really important that if you've made one your family knows where it is, especially if contains details of whether you would like to be buried or cremated.
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Home Made Wills

Postby jencast » Mon Oct 31, 2005 2:19 pm

Even solicitors fail to advise about all details in will making unless one is astute enough to inquire. Although a house can be left to someone, unless specified in a will, the contents of the home, default to discretion of the execuetors. Is it not imperative that the execuetors have a duty to inventory the contents immediately to establish the value of the contents? What is a reasonable time frame in which to conduct the inventory & assessment?
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Postby Pennyfarthing » Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:29 pm

I understand it is also VERY important who you appoint as Executor to your will. I know someone who is currently dealing with a will as sole executor and he is making a real meal of it because he doesn't really want to do it but will not consult a solicitor. He says it is taking a long time because he is a busy person and it is very time-consuming!! Three people are due to benefit (including him) but the others can do nothing until he gets his act together. I suppose these things can drag on for years?? :?
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Homemade wills

Postby jencast » Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:46 pm

Appointing an execuetor does require considerable thought. Imagine a scenario whereby an execuetor has to search for all the financial assets and paperwork of the deceased...sell a property and liquidate assets. With solicitors this can average about 24 months at the least and a considerable amount in fees. If the execuetor is a lay person, is he/she capable of dealing with the inland revenue, land registry, auction house, stockbrokerage firms, banks, cars and building societies? Does he have the time, if he/she is employed? The court papers for probate need filing and the VAT needs to be paid. Can the will maker trust that the execuetor will follow their wishes? Good luck.
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Postby Pennyfarthing » Wed Nov 02, 2005 4:20 pm

Absolutely Jencast! I am familiar with another scenario concerning wills. An elderly gentleman has made a will with a solicitor and one son as executors. His wishes are that all property etc is sold and split equally between his 3 children. The son who is executor does not speak to the other 2 children. How sensible is that? Elderly gentlemans reason for appointing him are that he lives closest to solicitor!! He is not oldest child or most capable or experienced in this type of thing.
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Postby Conveyancer » Fri Nov 04, 2005 11:24 pm

Pennyfarthing wrote:I understand it is also VERY important who you appoint as Executor to your will. I know someone who is currently dealing with a will as sole executor and he is making a real meal of it because he doesn't really want to do it but will not consult a solicitor. He says it is taking a long time because he is a busy person and it is very time-consuming!! Three people are due to benefit (including him) but the others can do nothing until he gets his act together. I suppose these things can drag on for years?? :?


You should of course check with the persons you wish to appoint that they are willing to accept the appointment.

Generally speaking, if a solicitor is dealing with the estate and there are no complications being an executor is not too burdensome as most of the work is done by the solicitors. In fact, it is usually cheaper to appoint solicitors as executors as then you do not have the extra administration of sending everything out to be signed and it can be dealt with internally.
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Re: Home Made Wills

Postby Conveyancer » Fri Nov 04, 2005 11:36 pm

jencast wrote:Even solicitors fail to advise about all details in will making unless one is astute enough to inquire.


This is true, but there is so much that could be said. Hopefully, the advice will be tempered to the client's situation so that everything is considered.

jencast wrote:..unless specified in a will, the contents of the home, default to discretion of the execuetors.


Not quite. In the absence of specific provision, the contents will go to the residuary beneficiary. What often happens is that discretion is specifically given to the executors and the client leaves a list of wishes. This is of course not appropriate if you have a house full of Rembrandts.
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Home made wills

Postby jencast » Sat Nov 05, 2005 12:25 am

What is a residuary beneficiary? Would it not be the party that has been left the house rather than the financial assets after specific gifts have been made? Don't the executors have the duty to inventory the contents for valuation purposes, if they suspect there are items of value within the house?
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Home made wills

Postby jencast » Sat Nov 05, 2005 12:38 am

Some solicitors make the assumption that the elderly, especially those that live frugally, do not have specific wishes for the contents. A case where an elderly gentleman knew his son A couldn't care less over a collection of items he has maintained and built over 70 years. He knew the other son B would find his possessions a good home since they shared the many happy times assembling and discussing these items. The elderly gentleman left the house to B assuming that meant control over the contents.
The executors informed son B, house contents are part of the estate and must be valued and liquidated. The value is inconsequential, probably less than 1% of the entire estate. It is a crying shame these solicitors did not inform their client appropriately.
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Re: Home made wills

Postby Conveyancer » Sat Nov 05, 2005 11:07 am

jencast wrote:What is a residuary beneficiary? Would it not be the party that has been left the house rather than the financial assets after specific gifts have been made?

The residuary beneficiary is the one who gets everything after the legacies have been paid, the specific gifts of personal property and land made and all debts and expenses paid.

jencast wrote:Don't the executors have the duty to inventory the contents for valuation purposes, if they suspect there are items of value within the house?

Executors have a general duty to ensure that everything in the estate is properly valued, for tax purposes if for no other.

In the absence of any instruction in the will, the executors do not have a duty to consult the residuary beneficiaries as to how the estate is dealt with and can liquidate all the assets and account to the beneficiaries. In practice the beneficiaries may be consulted and asked if they wish to take any asset in specie, that is take the asset itself.
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Re: Home made wills

Postby Conveyancer » Sat Nov 05, 2005 11:43 am

jencast wrote:Some solicitors make the assumption that the elderly, especially those that live frugally, do not have specific wishes for the contents. A case where an elderly gentleman knew his son A couldn't care less over a collection of items he has maintained and built over 70 years. He knew the other son B would find his possessions a good home since they shared the many happy times assembling and discussing these items. The elderly gentleman left the house to B assuming that meant control over the contents.
The executors informed son B, house contents are part of the estate and must be valued and liquidated. The value is inconsequential, probably less than 1% of the entire estate. It is a crying shame these solicitors did not inform their client appropriately.

It would of course be difficult to know what advice would have been given. It is my experience that the elderly often have a very clear idea of who is to get what in the way of ornaments, jewellery and the like and often turn up with a very long list.

The practical problem is that there are so many aspects on which advice can be given. Many solicitors have a check list to make sure they ask all the right questions, but inevitably there is occasionally going to be a problem that could not have been foreseen with even the most carefully thought out check list.

In the case you mention, if the other beneficiaries agree, there is no reason why the items cannot be taken in specie or sold to the beneficiary who wants them.
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Home made wills

Postby jencast » Sat Nov 05, 2005 3:49 pm

Good points regarding selling contents to the interested beneficiary, conveyancer. I don't envy the duties of executors, as it seems quite a tedious and thankless job. Hope my heirs are amicable and approachable enough to discuss those gray areas without hurt feelings.
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