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Wills -do I really need to use a solicitor?

(34 Posts)
INeedALieIn Mon 15-Jul-13 19:18:41

If I use an off the shelf will pack from WHSmiths would it still be valid if I follow the instructions?

Revengeofkarma Fri 16-Aug-13 21:40:18

Don't know Mumblechum or anyone on the thread but the advice is spot on. But I do want to recommend Will Aid. You see a solicitor, and the money goes to charity and you get a proper will done. Full wins all around. You need to get your appointment early as they do fill up.

As has been said, you can make a valid will with a kit. Though it is easy to screw up. But valid doesn't mean it does what you want, odds are against it doing what you think, and definitely isn't tax efficient. So either pay the money now (compared to the value of all you own it isn't much) or give the money to the government later.

MattWalkden Wed 14-Aug-13 14:16:49

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

SheereKhann Tue 06-Aug-13 19:13:53


Solicitor, Legal Exec or Will Writer ?

All of the above are more than capable of writing a cast-iron will to provide for and protect your families.
The choice is really down to the individual but just make sure that the organisation you use has a good track record, Professional Indemnity Insurance and, as is the case with many things in life,
make sure you get a good referral from a friend, colleague etc.

Things to do:

Do keep it updated. Most firms will offer an arrangement where provisions of a will can be updated as part of the fee - or even complementary rewrites. It is of paramount importance to keep these documents updated after life events such as births, marriages, deaths, divorces & matters such as house purchases.

Do go for an organisation who understand the potential tax implications of inheritances. You don't want to leave partners and children with a tax liability they have to sell the house for.

Don't go for a solicitor, bank or other institution who waive a writing fee based upon the promise of a probate fee. Some banks in particular are known to charge up to 10% of the estate value for probate services. That's a lot of money.

Don't go to the stationers or the post office and try to write one by your own. DIY kits seem straightforward but a majority are proven to fail at court when contested by a disgruntled relative represented by a sharp-eyed barrister. Similarly, online wills are growing in popularity but the industry is carefully watching the courts to see how contestable the doctrine of 'capacity' is when formal instructions have been taken through an email.

I hope this helps

poshfrock Mon 05-Aug-13 18:34:41

As an experienced probate lawyer I can honestly say that I have never dealt with a homemade will that has been straightforward. We often have to instruct counsel to give an opinion on how a will should be interpreted which by itself often costs £3k plus. The testator may have saved themselves £100 by writing the will themselves but the costs to the estate and thus the ultimate beneficiaries can be thousands.

ComtessedeFrouFrou Fri 19-Jul-13 15:13:35

Thanks MOS and Poosnu. I will make enquiries about the options.

mumblechum1 Fri 19-Jul-13 14:21:54

Cross posted with dame wine for you since it's friday x

mumblechum1 Fri 19-Jul-13 14:20:16

flowers for dame too! The best will writers are members of the institute of professional willwriters. You can only become a membet after training and examinations (tho qualified lawyers go thru a quicker route, as i did and I think MOS did). We have professional indemnity insurance, continuing professional training requirements, and are approved and regulated by trading standards. Sorry for typos, on phone

DameDeepRedBetty Fri 19-Jul-13 14:15:05

See I missed out on the flowers, however a glass of wine next time I'm in your neck of the woods would be entirely acceptable grin

DameDeepRedBetty Fri 19-Jul-13 14:13:02

Another quick vote for mumblechum, MN Goddess of Will Writers.

Poosnu Fri 19-Jul-13 14:09:38

Comtessed - you can also do a free-standing Deed of Appointment of guardians if it would be too much hassle to amend your Will. It should be stored with your Will.

MOSagain Fri 19-Jul-13 13:56:15

Comtessed congratuations on your pregnancy.
If you have storage for your wills you might get free amendments. My firm allows free amendments for all clients who have storage. Its certainly very sensible to update to include guardians for your child. Most experienced lawyers/will writers would suggest not naming your child, simply state 'child or children at the time of my death' as then any future children are covered, not just the one you have at the time you make/amend the will.

So sorry about your friend's terrible loss. I've just done a charity event to fundraise for SANDS in memory of a friend's son who was stillborn. Its a terrible thing, so very considerate of you not to want to upset her.

florencedombey Fri 19-Jul-13 13:49:44

I agree with Voiceofnoreason - a face to face meeting with a STEP member is the way to go. Steer clear of preprinted will forms - I was involved in a probate matter a few years ago where the lady who died had used a form and got it wrong. The lawyers' fees for the ensuing family dispute ran into thousands of pounds.

ComtessedeFrouFrou Fri 19-Jul-13 13:40:44

Mumblechum and OP can I hijack to ask a question?

My DH and I are both solicitors and had our wills done by our firm a few years ago. I'm PG. Do we need to update our wills? I'd ask the colleague who did the wills, but she's not long lost a baby who was stillborn and I really don't want to cause her any unecessary upset given the nature of my query.

I'm primarily concerned about guardianship. The "who" is easy, as we'd ask my sister, but I wondered whether we could do a letter of wishes or whether a full rewrite was required.

Thanks smile

MOSagain Fri 19-Jul-13 13:30:51

Also I would counsel against will writers. Most have very limited legal qualifications (legal execs or legal secs)
what an extremely ignorant sweeping statement made by voiceofnoreason (particularly apt username)

So you think that legal executives have very limited qualifications? Really? Clearly you haven't the first idea about the ILEX qualfication route. I have worked with a number of qualified legal executives over the years many of whom have far more experience than a number of solicitors they worked with. Legal executives are as experienced and qualified as Solicitors and are entitled to call themselves lawyers.

Oh, and by the way, a number of 'will writers' are also qualified lawyers/solicitors. Both mumblechum and I are experienced lawyers AND will writers!

voiceofnoreason Fri 19-Jul-13 11:08:47

Oh and this might be contentious - but a good solicitor will want to see you and your o/h. You would be surprised how many couples actually have quite different wishes and that people are coerced into making provisions that other people want. This is particularly true with the elderly. Which is why a good lawyer will want to talk to an elderly client alone - even if they have been brought in by a well meaning child. Yes - i know what you are thinking and it does happen a lot more than you think.

voiceofnoreason Fri 19-Jul-13 11:02:54

Have to add my twopenneth. Most people buy a kit as they think it will save them money. And they think they have a simple will. Almost inevitably this is not the case and at best the will is ineffective or worse damagingly invalid. My advice is don't get a kit. Also I would counsel against will writers. Most have very limited legal qualifications (legal execs or legal secs) and are not fully upto date with the relevant legislation which is hugely complicated and changing all the time.

Get a good solicitor. Look for a LEXCEL legal excellence certificate and the usual ISO / Lloyds Marks. Your best bet is to use a STEP practitioner. I know a contentious probate practitioner who makes a very comfortable living out of the mess created by will writers, legal execs and will kits. Yes you may save a few hundred quid by using a kit or a will writing service - but seriously it will save a huge amount of heartache and a lot of fees to see a professionally qualified solicitor. In life, you get what you pay for. If the advice is cheap - you need to ask yourself why. Good advice in this area will cost some money - and you should go to someone who is an expert at this.

Not all solicitors are experts in this field either - ask to see the CV of the specific person handling you (you may just get the CV of the Partner as opposed to the actual case file handler) if the firm is any good they will happily comply.

You want to make sure they have specific experience in this field and appropriate post-LPC certification in this.

mumblechum1 Wed 17-Jul-13 19:23:01

OP, the danger of using an off the shelf kit is that a kit can't ask you questions about your financial situation, your plans for your financial future, whether any of your children have special needs, whether there's anyone in the family who may have a claim, what extra safeguards you may like to put into a guardianship clause....the list is pretty long.

Just the other day I did a will for someone who'd previously done a will with a kit and she sent me a copy; it didn't even have her full name, and had many other flaws which would have invalidated the will, and meant that her estate would have gone to her estranged father rather than her partner.

mumblechum1 Tue 16-Jul-13 23:12:09

Advert's refreshed now smile

ChangingWoman Tue 16-Jul-13 22:09:14

Also marking place for future reference!

Newcupboards Tue 16-Jul-13 15:53:24


mumblechum1 Tue 16-Jul-13 08:39:58

flowers to MOS
flowers to SuperiorCat
flowers to LoneCat
flowers to RandomMess
flowers to NewCupboards

Oh, and flowers to my mum, my producer, my director and anyone else who knows me wink

MOSagain Tue 16-Jul-13 07:29:52

Another recommendation for Mumblechum. Too many people don't have wills and it is so very very important.

mumblechum1 Tue 16-Jul-13 01:30:07

Thanks for all the recommendations, very kind of you all!

My ad on Classifieds ran out on Sat and I've been away for a long weekend so haven't got round to re-doing it yet. Will probably do it tomorrow smile

loopyloou Mon 15-Jul-13 23:16:37

Marking my place, need a will at some point - but can't afford right now hmm

INeedALieIn Mon 15-Jul-13 23:06:06

Think I will give mumblechum a whirl.

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