Legal advice from Ian Sydenham, Wills Trusts and Probate Partner based at FDR Law’s office in Warrington
Q: Do I need a Solicitor to make a Will?
A: A common enquiry, especially as many stationers sell DIY Will packs! I answer this question by saying that I don’t need a reputable car garage to repair my car, but I am happy to rely on their expertise. I don’t need to go to a doctor when so much medical information is available on the Internet, but the expertise of my doctor is best.
One of the main difficulties in making a Will without getting independent legal advice is that sometimes things that appear to be straightforward are, in reality, very complicated and our courts are busy with disputes about Wills. In one case a distinguished physicist left his estate ‘in the UK’ to the Royal Society, the technical definition of ‘in the UK does not include assets in the Channels Islands or the Isle of Man where most of his were held. The court agreed that he had intended to include his offshore accounts and the Will was rectified to take this into account, but not before a considerable delay and considerable expense had been incurred.
Other examples of issues that can arise can be where a gift in a Will is for ‘my children’, does that include step or adopted children? People who make Wills without legal training sometimes get the name of an intended beneficiary wrong, for example charities often have remarkably similar names or will change the name, merge or cease to exist after a Will has been signed, but before the person signing the Will dies. A good lawyer knows how to avoid the problems and prevent them arising.
No one has to see a solicitor to make a Will but best advice is priceless in respect of the most important document you may ever sign.