An alarming proportion of the UK’s population have still not made a will. This is highlighted in a recent report released by The Law Society which revealed that 73% of 16-54 year-olds do not have a will. One of the main reasons for this is often because people believe that their assets or estate will automatically go to the people they would like it to go to. Usually that is not the case.

There is also a worrying

trend of people drafting their wills without the help of a solicitor. These wills are either ‘off-the-shelf’ template versions, or those drafted by unqualified, unregulated and occasionally uninsured members of the public. They can be appealing as they are sometimes cheaper than a high street firm of solicitors but the risks attached may outweigh any initial savings.

Research has suggested that up to 180,000 wills are drafted by non-lawyers each year.

Many complaints are now referred to and, hopefully, resolved by the Legal Ombudsman. In 2013/14, 72% of the wills and probate-related complaints that the Legal Ombudsman reviewed required corrective action. As this article in The Law Society Gazette highlights, these complaints generally arise as a result of poorly prepared wills or trusts; negligent probate or tax advice and lost wills.

As in other countries, mortality rates in England and Wales rise during the winter months. This then leads to an increase in the level of probate work and this is often when errors in the drafting of a will become apparent. Often it is not appreciated that a will cannot be changed if someone loses mental capacity. More often than not it is not possible to change mistakes in such circumstances particularly if the beneficiaries disagree. That can lead to valuable assets going to people who you would not wish to benefit. Even if mistakes can be corrected it is likely to be very costly and time consuming.

We believe it is important for people to have a better understanding of the importance of writing a will and the benefits of using a qualified solicitor. It is vital that a will leaves nothing to interpretation, as any uncertainty could lead to dispute or litigation.

Our experts Michael Labrum, Janet Drake, and Laura Labrum, with Janet also being STEP qualified and a Dementia Friend, specialise in the drafting of wills. Contact one of them on 01727 858807 and see how we can help you.

Image source: Flickr

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