Home-made Wills may not be the cheapest option in the long run
As tempting as it may be to draft your own Will, in an attempt to save yourself a few pounds, failing to seek professional legal advice could cost you dearly in the long run.
Importance of Will Solicitors
“Difficult conversations and family disputes could arise in your family after your death if you do not take full advice on how best to draft your Will. Consulting Solicitors can be invaluable, particularly if you are leaving certain people out. That was certainly the case where a desperately ill gentleman left his entire and substantial estate to a friend, whilst completely cutting out his family” warns Head of Wills Trusts, Tax and Probate for Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers
The man had made his Will after he was admitted to the hospital suffering from the brain tumour that led to his death. Prior to hospitalisation he had suffered from a long-standing bipolar disorder.
The document was short and informal, drafted without the benefit of professional legal advice, witnessed by two friends, and left his estate to another friend. Normally, if he had died without making a Will the estate would have been passed to his brother and sister, but because they were estranged from him they had had no contact with him until shortly before his death.
Reasons for Challenging the Validity of a Will
- The siblings claimed that their brother did not have the capacity to make a valid Will because, if the document was found to be invalid, they would inherit
- They denied that it was their brother’s signature
- They also stressed that he lacked knowledge and approval of its contents
- They asserted their brother’s illness caused cortical blindness so the siblings questioned whether the Will had been read to him
- Allegedly he had repeatedly told his brother that he had never made a Will or ever intended making one
High Court Hearing
After the initial hearing, the High Court stated that the siblings hadn’t formally claimed that the Will had been executed in suspicious circumstances, or that the document was the product of collusion or forged signature.
The witnesses to the man’s Will were ordered to disclose documents to the Court for use during the proceedings, including any written communication they had had with the man around the time of his death.
In ruling such an admission was necessary to dispose fairly of the case, the Court stated that amongst other things that the man’s signature on these documents would assist handwriting experts when judging the authenticity of the signature on the Will document.
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Pearson Solicitors advises, “By using the services of a professional solicitor such issues should not arise. It is always best to speak to a Solicitor to gain full advice and explore all issues surrounding making a Will.”
Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.
This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.