In today’s financially difficult times some people may be tempted to make a Will without employing the services of a solicitor. The danger is that few people appreciate the complexities involved in the Will drafting process and just how serious the consequences of a poorly drafted Will can be.
Problems commonly arise with very simple Wills which automatically assume the intended beneficiary will survive to receive the estate and which fail to make allowances for the situation where they die before the testator or before attaining the age of benefit specified in the Will. If the worst does happen then the provisions of the Will may fail. Similarly, where a Will names multiple beneficiaries it is not necessarily true that if one of them dies before the testator their share of the estate will be divided between the survivors. This depends upon precisely how the Will is drafted and it is possible for the provisions of a Will to fail as regards the share of the estate intended for the deceased beneficiary.
Simple Wills may also fail to include many of the administrative clauses which are necessary in order to give the Executors of the estate various powers they may need in order to deal with the estate administration effectively.
There are many technicalities involved in the Will drafting process which may not be easily understood by those without legal expertise and experience. For example, the wording of a Will may inadvertently cause a trust to have to be created to hold monies intended for a minor beneficiary until they reach a specified age. Trusts can be time consuming and costly to administer and often the costs are such that they can extinguish the value of the original gift.
Similarly, where a gift is made to a charity the wording of a Will may unintentionally impose a legally binding obligation on that charity to use the money for a particular purpose. If the charity is unable to do this it may mean the gift fails and the charity receives nothing.
A poorly drafted Will may be open to challenge and may leave the estate vulnerable to a claim. In some circumstances, legal proceedings may be required to try to ensure that the estate passes to those persons whom the testator really intended to benefit.
Only by making a carefully planned Will can you be sure that, when you die, everything you own will pass to the persons of your choice. When a person dies without having left a valid Will, their estate will pass in accordance with the ‘intestacy rules’. Generally speaking, their effect is to pass the testator’s estate to those people most closely related to them. This may create problems in cases where there are family members whom the testator would not have wanted to benefit.
Once the decision to make a Will has been made, a desire to ensure that that Will is prepared properly should surely follow. Hay & Kilner has a team of specialist wealth management solicitors who can guide you through the process to help you preserve your assets for your chosen beneficiaries. A little time and money spent now may save a lot of heartache in the future.
For further information or to make an appointment, please contact Alice Clewes on 0191 232 8345 or email: Alice.Clewes@hay-kilner.co.uk
This article is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues. Please contact us to discuss how the contents of the article may affect you.