There may be a temptation to prepare your own Will to avoid having to disclose personal details to a solicitor, ‘save time’ or to save on legal fees. However, having professionally drafted Will helps to ensure that your plans and wishes are properly recorded and that the likelihood of a challenge to your Will is reduced.
Solicitors are required to satisfy themselves that the person making the Will is doing so of their own free will, they have capacity and that they understand how their wishes will be put into effect. The Solicitor will usually witness the Will or give detailed advice on how to properly execute it. The Solicitor is also required to keep records of meetings and correspondence, copies of which may only be disclosed in the event of a future dispute, but the Solicitor is otherwise bound by a duty of confidentiality to their client.
In contrast, attempting to prepare your own Will or preparing a Will for someone else without input and advice from a Solicitor can cause more costs to be incurred, either in dealing with a potential challenge to the validity of the Will or in referring the matter to Court for directions as to what the content of the Will means.
It is vital that a Will is properly signed and witnessed. The law governing the execution of Wills requires that the signature of the person making the Will is witnessed by two independent people in their presence at the same time. There is no special dispensation even during a period of government enforced lockdown. Wills will be declared invalid if improperly executed, for example in front of one witness, or in front of a beneficiary or the spouse of a beneficiary. Legal advisers are developing strategies to ensure Wills are still properly witnessed whilst maintaining social distancing in accordance with government guidelines.
The world has changed in many ways since the beginning of the Corona virus crisis, those suffering from bereavement are finding themselves in an unfamiliar landscape even if they have dealt with the registration of deaths, the arrangement of funerals and the administrations of estate before. Deaths can now be registered over the telephone, there are restrictions on funeral attendance and the probate process is changing. If ‘going it alone’ during isolation feels daunting our specialist team can assist you.