When it makes sense to buy quality

Posted on: December 7th, 2018

Lindsay Taylor & Roz Wyeth explain how DIY or shop bought wills may not provide the security for your loved ones that you were hoping for.

The alternative can be to save now and pay later. Wills are a great example. They can seem expensive at the outset, particularly for a document that the writer aka testator will never use themselves. At its most basic, a will sets out who is to manage your estate and your chosen beneficiaries. It covers your last wishes for your assets.

I have often handled estates with a ‘holograph’ or homemade will, or one prepared by a person without the required experience to understand the pitfalls. There may be no problem where both the estate and the distribution are simple but problems can arise where the estate or family dynamics are more complex.

My most memorable holograph will estate concerned a gentleman who wanted to provide for his wife and his children from a previous marriage. His main asset was a property held in his sole name. He wanted to ensure his wife retained a roof over her head and his children ultimately benefited from the capital in the property. He set up a life interest trust in his will for his wife for her life with the property passing to his children on her death.

Sadly his wife lost capacity to manage her own affairs and to take care of herself. Her attorney moved her into a nursing home. The question then arose as to what should happen to the property. The will was silent on the matter. It did not provide for the property to be sold and the funds invested to generate income for the wife (as the attorney wanted) nor did it allow any distribution to the children once the property was no longer needed as a home (as the children wanted). The attorney had an obligation to the wife to maximise her income but the will contained no power to do so. The children, who were also the executors, wanted to follow the wishes of their father but had no guidance. The two sides of the family could not reach an agreement between themselves. Instead, they entered into negotiation to reach a solution agreeable to both parties but at cost to the estate.

All following the initial cost of a £25 shop bought DIY will. The testator looked to save the maximum amount of his estate for his family; unfortunately, this decision cost thousands to resolve. When making a will with one of Coffin Mew’s experienced solicitors, you will have the chance to consider future possibilities should you or your family’s circumstances change, to explore tax and practical consequences of your will and ultimately avoid the pitfalls of a will that is insufficient for your needs.

If you would like any help updating or drafting your will please get in touch our Wills, Trusts and Probate team by clicking here.