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Writing a Will is one of the most important documents you are likely to make. Doing so will ensure that after you’re gone, all the valuable possessions and assets you have worked so hard to acquire are distributed to the people who you choose and in the exact way that you envisaged.

Making a Will is all about planning for the future of you and your family. People don’t like talking about it, but it needs to be talked about. Dying is the one and only thing that can be guaranteed in life: it shouldn’t be ignored.

We heard last week in The Telegraph how a daughter, Tinuola Aregbesola, lost out on her half of a stake of a valuable London home even though court documents show her father had instructed half of the home to be given to her.

The problem was that her father, Ebenezer, made a cheap £90 Will with Barclays. You might think you could trust a big financial institution like Barclays to get a Will right. However, they are not legal experts and thus made a mistake, forgetting to severe the joint tenancy on the property. As a result, the whole house went to Ebenezer’s new wife who jointly owned the house, but who wasn’t the mother of the daughter. The case is now going to the High Court where the daughter is seeking hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damages.

There was a further follow-up article in the Sunday Telegraph, entitled, ‘How a cheap will could leave your family in ruins’. The article re-visited a few famous cases of people dying without a Will, referred to as ‘dying intestate’, and discussed current cases. People are slowly warming to the idea of talking about this sensitive subject.

Despite this, just under half of Britons have not made a Will. Moreover, according to our survey only 4% would make a Will if someone gave them the money to spend on what they wished!

Making a Will is something you need to do right. There are no cutting corners with this one, otherwise it is your family who could suffer afterwards. Below are the top 10 tips on writing a Will to ensure all of your assets reach the right hands.

Writing a Will: The Top 10 Tips

  1. Use a Solicitor. All solicitors are insured, tightly regulated and legally qualified. You will also have recourse to the legal ombudsman if things go wrong.
  2. Find a STEP qualified solicitor. STEP stands for Society of Trusts and Estate Practioners, which means the solicitor has specialist expertise and a detailed knowledge of the law in this area.
  3. Mirror Will with your partner – agree who you want to benefit. Couples can do a mirror Will, however, it is vital to have the discussion about who you want to benefit before you visit the solicitor’s offices. A solicitor can explain your options but cannot make the decisions for you.
  4. Face to Face meeting. This is the best way for a solicitor to capture the relevant information and the best way for you to get expert advice. Most solicitors offer a no-obligation initial meeting to help you get the process started.
  5. Be honest. It is really important to answer questions about your circumstances honestly. Make sure you tell the solicitor if you have any children you aren’t including in the Will, or perhaps you have concerns about your children being bad with money or getting divorced. A solicitor can provide you with the necessary advice for each circumstance.
  6. Ask for a quote/estimate. Before you go ahead ensure you know the price you are likely to pay. As we can see from the article above, the cheapest way is not always the best. Quality advice and service should be your highest priority for this important legal document.
  7. Check for no hidden costs. Sometimes a solicitor may have extra costs for storage of the Will, but most provide this for free. Ask the question so you aren’t surprised further down the line.
  8. Terms of Business. Ensure that you receive full terms of business from the solicitor, which will include a quote, to make sure you are entering into a contract you fully agree with.
  9. View a draft. Before you sign the Will, make sure you are completely happy with it. Raise any concerns that you may have so that you have complete peace of mind.
  10. Get the Will signed at the solicitor’s office. Getting it signed at the office ensures that there is a record of the execution of the Will and that this was done correctly. This is particularly important if family members are likely to cause problems after your death.

The Wills, Trusts and Probate team at Gorvins are experts in the field. All our solicitors are members of STEP and have excellent experience, meaning they can provide the best advice for your needs. If you have any questions about making a will, or would like to act on it and make a will, give us a call on 0343 507 5151 or email us on actonit@gorvins.com and we will get straight back to you.