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Will aid and draft will

(12 Posts)
babybythesea Thu 06-Feb-14 16:17:11

Last November DH and I did the Will Aid thing. We found a local solicitor who was participating and had a meeting to draw up a will - our first. It cost £130 which was a huge amount of money but something we needed to do.
We weren't that happy immediately after the meeting, to be honest. We went along with a list of things we wanted to include, not massive, but things that were important to us.
These include:
DH is from New Zealand, and all his family are over there. We wanted to put a clause in that if anything happened to us, my sister (as guardian of our two children) would undertake to get them to NZ to visit family every three years minimum, and providing for this - life insurance, house sale etc.
Giving my wedding ring to DD1 and my engagement ring to DD2.

Not much more than that.

My sister had said when she wrote her will, her solicitor had even asked what would happen to the dog and suggested that if I was to take her, that money come with her to allow me to care for her properly. She also has left various bits of jewellery to family members, and paintings.

My solicitor on the other hand said that we should just leave everything in trust for the girls, for the trustees to manage if the girls were still minors. And joked that presumably we trusted them if they were also guardians for our children. So there's nothing about any special bits of jewellery and who gets them, nothing about the girls needing to go to NZ, just this basic one page 'I leave everything to my surviving spouse, and to the girls if we both die together, and in that case my sister will be in charge'.

I'm really not happy with it. My sister said her solicitor said that you need to remember that if the worst is to happen, then everyone is so fraught with emotion that the clearer you can be the better, as opposed to my guy suggesting we rely totally on trust. I also don't know, because we did will aid, whether we actually have any come-back, and whether in fact we got the basic will we paid for and this is it - a basic will which fundamentally says bugger all. We can't afford to pay for another will starting from scratch, and am now wishing we'd not done the charity thing but paid direct so that we felt we had more redress.
I phoned will aid but the woman just said it was between us and the solicitor and that putting loads of detail into a will was not always advisable. Loads of detail - maybe, but some, surely?

Anyway, I want to know about wills. If you have one, is it similar to mine - here, have my kids, and look after everything for me and we'll trust you to be fair about it - or if you have actually specified some things?
We haven't signed the draft will yet.

Fantissue Thu 06-Feb-14 18:03:38

You definitely need some detail. What if the children squabble over the rings at the very least? Being too specific brings it's own problems but this will is far too simplistic.

DinoSnores Thu 06-Feb-14 18:25:37

Our wills are very similar but our solicitor has suggested that we write Letters of Intent that go along with the wills instead of changing the will each time we think of something else, such as specific endowments of jewellery etc, instructions for the nominated guardians of our children. I'm glad we have left it open as the needs of the children might well be very different to what we might expect should it ever be needed.

babybythesea Thu 06-Feb-14 18:51:21

Thank you. Do the Letters of Intent have to be official, witnessed by a solicitor? Or can they be done more informally and just written at home and witnessed by folks at home?

DinoSnores Thu 06-Feb-14 19:36:17

Not according to my solicitor. We can just write them, sign them, keep copies with our photocopied wills at home and send them into the solicitor to be put with the wills.

mercibucket Thu 06-Feb-14 19:47:45

personally and not legally i wouldnt worry about it. what are the chances of you both dying? miniscule. so really no need to get too hung up about what i would say are details you could sort out with a quick chat to your sister (nz flights) or a codicil thing where you write out exactly who gets what eg rings

PortofinoRevisited Thu 06-Feb-14 19:52:33

But a will can't undertake that your sister MUST fly to NZ every couple of years. What if she doesn't want to? Can't get the holiday etc? How could this be policed?

Rangirl Thu 06-Feb-14 20:33:08

If you are unhappy with the Wills ,which you clearly are,then you should raise this with the solicitor who drew them up The fact you did them under the Will Aid scheme is irrelevant to your professional relationship with the solicitor

To some extent the amount of detail that goes in a Will is a matter of personal preference

For things like rings I give my clients the option

The New Zealand thing I would discourage clients from including I would say it's not something for a Will as it's legally not unforced lie

Would be much better to be in a letter of wishes

Finally £130 for 2 wills is very inexpensive

The Will aid scheme normally only covers very basic wills

Rangirl Thu 06-Feb-14 20:37:41

Sorry posted too soon
As you have not signed tell the solicitor you are not happy and discuss your proposed changes with him At the end of the day he should follow your instructions

If this meant the wills moved from basic to more complex you may be charged extra so make sure you check that

Hope this helps

babybythesea Thu 06-Feb-14 22:51:01

Thank you.
The idea with the NZ trip would be to ensure the children could go to see family - not necessarily with my sister. Options to pay someone to accompany them, or have them go as unaccompanied minors, for example. But I take the point that it's not enforceable. Part of the will though would have been to provide a pot of money to allow for the trips - which was really more my concern.
But the details like who gets the wedding/engagement rings are things I thought wills would sort out. I don't want pages of details - the ones I listed are pretty much it.
It just struck me as odd that my sister had someone ask her what would happen to her dog and was able to provide money for it, as well as sort out odd bits of jewellery, and I couldn't even put aside money for my kids in a different pot to the general stuff.

Glad to know the will aid thing doesn't affect it - I know it was the basic amount but it was the recommended amount. I would far rather he'd said "If you want to do x,y and z it's this amount more' than pay money for a will we don't want. But having done will aid, I thought maybe we had no recourse to change things.

I think we may go down the route of a letter of wishes. I realise it's very unlikely to ever happen but it's always possible so we need to get at least some way towards having it say what we want, otherwise we have just given a big lump of money to charity that we otherwise wouldn't have donated, and not got the thing out of it we needed.

Thanks for your help rangirl - very useful to know.

poshfrock Fri 07-Feb-14 12:22:07

As has already been mentioned £130 for 2 wills is very cheap. My firm charges £180 plus VAT for 2 basic wills. The Will Aid scheme is designed for people to have a basic will made and benefit charity at the same time. Remember the solicitor isn't getting a penny for drafting your wills. Your wills sound quite complex and if you had come to me I would have told you so and that they would therefore not be covered by the Will Aid scheme in full. Will Aid gives us the right to charge clients an additional fee where the wills are not straightforward provided we notify the client up front. I think you were expecting too much really and the fault with your solicitor lies in not telling you so. My firm has decided to withdraw from the Will Aid scheme as we were getting lots of people wanting complex wills for rock bottom prices and the cost to us was too great. If you want to benefit charity my advice is put a bequest in your will.

Rangirl Fri 07-Feb-14 12:56:58

I have sympathy with your position posh frock

I want to see a couple this year who wanted Full trusts (second marriage) which meant transferring the title of 2 properties

I said immediately this would not be fully covered by the Will aid scheme and they got quite shirty with me

I will probably continue to participate but can see why you might not

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