Home-made Wills

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Postby WILL*REMAIN*STRONG » Thu Apr 03, 2008 11:31 am

andrew54 wrote:And no, I still haven't made a will.


Why? :) Are you going to live forever and if so can I have your secret formula? :D
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Postby andrew54 » Thu Apr 03, 2008 11:40 am

WILL*REMAIN*STRONG wrote:
andrew54 wrote:And no, I still haven't made a will.


Why? :) Are you going to live forever and if so can I have your secret formula? :D


The main reason we have not made wills is that it would seem that the rules on intestacy would direct our money to exactly where we would choose it to go to anyway.
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Postby WILL*REMAIN*STRONG » Thu Apr 03, 2008 2:22 pm

andrew54 wrote:The main reason we have not made wills is that it would seem that the rules on intestacy would direct our money to exactly where we would choose it to go to anyway.


But it is peace of mind to have a will, I would spin in my ash box if someone got their hands on our money/house who didn't deserve it! :twisted:
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Postby Conveyancer » Thu Apr 03, 2008 3:09 pm

andrew54 wrote:The main reason we have not made wills is that it would seem that the rules on intestacy would direct our money to exactly where we would choose it to go to anyway.


Unwise to rely on the intestacy rules. In any event, it is easy enough to have a will done that says what you want.
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Postby Conveyancer » Thu Apr 03, 2008 3:14 pm

andrew54 wrote:But remember that "getting it done properly" can bring problems too.

Friends mother in law wanted to leave her house to her daughter, anything left to grandaughter. She was not told that the will would ever need updating. She moved house so no longer owned the 'named' house. Daughter got nothing, grandaughter got the lot.

Fatherinlaw had new wills drawn up. He mentioned he wanted 2 sons as executors, and all his estate to go to his children. Silly solicitor didn't ask if there were more children and made will out to benefit the 2 sons. Daughters would have got nothing if fatherinlaw hadn't been so careful to read the will.

Be careful. And no, I still haven't made a will.


Just to make it clear. It is quite possible for a non-lawyer to draw up a satisfactory will. Professionally drawn wills are not guaranteed to be without problems.
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Postby Conveyancer » Thu Apr 03, 2008 3:20 pm

WILL*REMAIN*STRONG wrote:How much do these things usually cost?


It varies. Shop around for a quote.

WILL*REMAIN*STRONG wrote:It will most likely need to be amended at many stages throughout our life, is it easy to do?


If you only want to make a small change, then you can sign a codicil. Otherwise you make a new will. You can make as many as you like. A will is said to be "ambulatory" - it has no effect until death.

WILL*REMAIN*STRONG wrote:We want to leave everything to each other of course should one of us die, is there little chance of a will being contested if one correctly?


On the whole, the younger you are when you make a will, the less likely it is to be challenged.
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Postby Conveyancer » Thu Apr 03, 2008 3:24 pm

Some more thoughts:

The following are examples of what can go wrong:

If you follow a standard will there is a temptation to tinker with it. This can be disastrous. On other forums I have seen there some horrible examples of amateur drafting. Legal drafting is a technical skill acquired by practice and backed by legal knowledge, it is not just about writing clearly in plain English. Many people do not in fact write clearly anyway.

The interpretation of wills by the courts tends to be conservative. Words, even apparently ordinary words, may have specific and precise meanings assigned to them that you may not realise. Technical terms you may not fully understand will be taken to have been used correctly.

People do not think things through.

Some people think that their will needs to deal with the whole of their estate. They sit down and work out how much they think they are worth and simply provide for legacies that add up to the total they reach. If when they die their estate exceeds that total there will be a partial intestacy.

Some people fail to provide for a "gift over". They may, for example, write: "I leave half my estate to Fred and half my estate to Joe." If Joe dies before they do there will be a partial intestacy.

A person may have two children, one of whom lives with him. He may want that child to have the house. He makes a will leaving the house to that child and the residue to the other child, intending to benefit both more or less equally. What may happen is that the house is sold years later leaving the child who lived with him with nothing. Sometimes people will leave a specific property to someone and then sell and buy another. If an appropriate provision is not made for the gift to apply to any newly acquired property the beneficiary loses out. Equally, owning only one property, they may say in their will: "I leave all my land to Bill." If they die at an inconvenient moment when they bought one property before selling another, Bill will end up with more than intended.

A properly drafted will can help avoid these sorts of problems arising.

See further this site:
Construction of wills: principles of construction


***

The ethos of this site is self-help and I am all in favour of do-it-yourself, but there is a limit. I am not the type of lawyer who thinks that you should run to a lawyer with every problem you have nor am I so arrogant as to think that the layman is quite incapable of acting for himself. But remember, if you conduct your own case through the small claims procedure the judge is there to see fair play. If you decide to do your own conveyancing, the conveyancer for the other party will, to a certain extent, make sure the documents are in order as it will be in his own client's interest. (I have often wondered what would happen if two people acting for themselves were involved in the same property transaction!) By all means fill in your own tax return.

But drafting your own will is quite a different matter - there is no one there to check up on you. It is fraught with danger. If you are prepared to pay a solicitor when you buy a house, it just does not make sense not to pay a solicitor to draw up a will to make sure the house goes to the person you want it to go to.

Solicitors have a bit of a problem in this area as when they insist that you should get a solicitor to draw up your will it seems that they are blowing their own trumpet. But if there is one single thing that you should not do yourself but get a solicitor to do, it is your will. Writing your own will is worse than deciding not to insure your house on the grounds that it is unlikely to burn down.

Finally, a word of caution. Not all solicitors are competent. A solicitor who is competent in one area may not be competent in another. Make sure you chose the right one. A good guide is how long the solicitor spends taking your instructions. If he just notes what you want to do, you have probably chosen the wrong one. If he has a long list of questions and says: "Ah, but what if..." you have probably chosen the right one.
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Postby Rowan » Thu Apr 03, 2008 3:40 pm

Having not long since dealt with my Mum's will, I do appreciate some of the problems (and her's was drawn up by a solicitor)

Much of what she mentioned had been gifted away, broken, lost by the time she died - we also knew that she was wanting to change her will but never did

Fortunately there were only four of us involved and all agreed to sort things out between us - we had seen family feuds over wills before!

We even managed to sort out 'the second-best teaspoons' - where that phrase came from and why a solicitor would put it in a will was beyond all our comprehensions :roll:
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Postby Conveyancer » Thu Apr 03, 2008 3:59 pm

Rowan wrote:Much of what she mentioned had been gifted away, broken, lost by the time she died - we also knew that she was wanting to change her will but never did


A really good firm of solicitors will write to you at intervals and ask if your will needs revising. I am afraid people do not always get round to changing their wills, just as they do not always get down to doing one in the fist place.

Rowan wrote:We even managed to sort out 'the second-best teaspoons' - where that phrase came from and why a solicitor would put it in a will was beyond all our comprehensions :roll:


I am not sure about teaspoons, but Shakespeare's will says: "I gyve unto my wief my second best bed with the furniture."
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Postby Rowan » Thu Apr 03, 2008 4:05 pm

It is possible the firm did write - Mum may have ignored their letters - toward the end we became very aware that she treated all mail as 'junk' - we would check the contents of the dustbin before we took it out for emptying!

I'd forgotten about Shakespeare's bed!

Excuse me while I potter off and look out the copies of our mirror wills - 10 years since we made them!
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Postby WILL*REMAIN*STRONG » Thu Apr 03, 2008 4:07 pm

Thank you for your excellent advice Conveyancer.

What if you want to leave some of your money to a charity? Do you have to go through the charity itself or just mention them?
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Postby andrew54 » Thu Apr 03, 2008 4:24 pm

Conveyancer wrote:
andrew54 wrote:The main reason we have not made wills is that it would seem that the rules on intestacy would direct our money to exactly where we would choose it to go to anyway.


Unwise to rely on the intestacy rules. In any event, it is easy enough to have a will done that says what you want.


But also easy for it to be wrong, see above examples.
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Postby Conveyancer » Thu Apr 03, 2008 6:21 pm

WILL*REMAIN*STRONG wrote:What if you want to leave some of your money to a charity? Do you have to go through the charity itself or just mention them?


Many, if not all, solicitors have a charities book with details of the correct names and addresses of many charities. If your favoured charity does not feature, for example because it is a small or local charity, you can approach them for the relevant details.
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Postby despair » Thu Apr 03, 2008 7:15 pm

What beat me is the idiot firm of trust solicitors who 12yrs ago will not discuss things with their family and charged £500 to rewrite my Mothers Will ..........the only change was to leave £1000 to each of 4 Grandchildren instead of £500

What they should have done was persuade her to put everything in trust so that GB could not snatch 40% in IHT

There must be so many very elderly people of her generation out there intent on keeping things private who will not discuss things with their family or use a calculator to work things out sensibly

Wills should state % of an estate because £1000 12 yrs ago equals more like £200 now
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Postby stringrae » Fri Apr 04, 2008 9:46 am

We went to a solicitor last summer - told him what we wanted - pretty normal stuff. Went back for 2nd meeting and took documents away with us to look at and then ..... sign. Showed it to the 2 executors we had chosen - one of which is a solicitor - she could not understand it at all - she said it was very misleading. We couldnt understand it either so we felt pleased that we were not being "thick"!! :D

Never signed it. Never heard from the firm of solicitors either - so didnt get billed but if they do we will dispute.

Now going a different route - using a guy who works for a company (not lawyers) who specialise in Will writing. Seem very good. Write it all in simple language that the man in the street can understand. He has done Wills for several of our mates and they seem very happy.
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