Wills - you get what you pay for?

As all good business people should, I decided to see what was on offer when it came to Will writing services the other day and so decided to consult the modern Oracle, Google to check out my competition. Initially it appeared that I could make a Will for £19.99 but then I discovered that this might actually mean FROM £19.99 - well, who would have thought?!

Even though this might have meant some serious competition for Will writers such as me, resulting in us crying into more than one beer, I had to wonder just what advice you would receive for £19.99. I imagine but, am unable to say with any degree of certainty, that such advice would be enough to help you tear off a piece of toilet roll (now thankfully more freely available), write down who you want to leave your estate to and have the document witnessed correctly and bish, bash, bosh now we're sucking diesel - those of you in the know who have lost their Sunday evenings to some highly addictive telly drama will know who uses this phrase. I would mention his name but some may become confused and think I am selling car insurance

The fact is that our lives today can be more complex than years ago. For example I was recently speaking with a neighbour of mine who wanted to remind me that when he was a young man the working week was often 60 hours or more and the only break came on a Sunday when an hour could be taken for Church. A lifetime secure in the knowledge that everyday would be more or less the same and then retirement would follow sure as night follows day. Lives today can be very different. People now sometimes have two or more different careers in their lifetime, have children from more than one relationship, choose to get married, enter into a civil partnership, simply co-habit together, run multinational corporations or run a successful business from their kitchen table. OK, so I have made my point to the point of boring you.

However, it is a truth not always universally acknowledged that there are a myriad of other factors that can now affect our lives and your Will should be able to reflect your life as it is when you make it. It should also take account of any issues that may affect you and your family and, in so far as it is possible to do so, future proof itself against change.

The Will draftsperson needs to be able to properly discuss with you all aspects of your life encompassing such matters as whether you need to make provision for a partner, whether you wish to make provision for an estranged child or whether the cat sanctuary up the road should have a little something.

Complex lives do not necessarily require complex Wills but I have always firmly believed that my clients should have all the facts laid out clearly before them in terms of their options and what certain decisions may mean after death. No one ever wishes for unintended consequences and a well drafted Will should seek to ensure that such consequences are avoided. For example, if you have no Will then the law determines to whom your estate will pass under the Intestacy Rules. Quite often when I run through these rules with clients they baulk at the potential outcome not having realised that this would be the case. Moreover, some clients also fail to realise that, depending on their individual circumstances, a Will drafted in a certain way may leave their estate open to potential litigation after their death.

I have to be frank with you, I cannot say that in all my years of dealing with Wills I could have provided detailed advice and a carefully drafted Will for £19.99 but that is not to say that others cannot do so.

My view, for what it is worth, is that you, as a client, have the right to be advised on all the aspects of your life and those of your dependants at the time that you come to see me and chat things through. You should feel happy and confident that when you put your signature to your Will it does exactly what you want it to in light of the advice that you have received. As Bob Hoskins used to say on behalf of BT - 'it's good to talk' so please feel free to contact me for an initial no obligation chat about your Will. (By the way I do recognise that the Bob Hoskins reference may age me a little but could we agree to keep that between ourselves).

Michael

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