Making the right decision with your Will
Where there’s a Will there’s a way, they say.
That’s not strictly true. There are three ways to get a Will:
- you write it yourself,
- engage the services of a solicitor or
- see a specialist Will-writer
So what is the best route to go down if you want a Will that follows your last wishes and won’t leave loved-ones lost, out in the cold, or forced to fight for “what is rightfully theirs” in the courts?
Estate planning professional Peter Burton offers some route-planning guidance.
Lots of things need to be considered before you even get down to the business of filling out a legal document, says Peter of the The Will Writing Company, a trusted partner of The Nottingham which offers customers expert advice on all aspects of estate planning.
People often bog themselves down in the small print of who gets what before they have properly thought through their circumstances or looked at the bigger picture.
A well-written Will, whoever drafts it, does three things, says Peter: it protects, it preserves and it passes on your legacy. Like grandmother’s night gown, it covers all eventualities - present and future. It will ensure your children benefit from your estate (providing that is what you want) if, for example, your spouse remarries.
Comprehensive Estate Planning also includes having a seperate document drafted called a Lasting Power of Attorney. This enables you to appoint people, called your attorneys, who can make decisions for you when you are unable to do so. This may include decisions about both financial and health & welfare issues.
A do-it-yourself, fill-in-the-blanks Will might work for some people, but it might not cover all your requirements. You also run the risk of ambiguities or mistakes creeping into a document not scrutinised by a professional.
The next choice is to have your Will drawn up by a solicitor. A good solicitor should do a solid job with the document, leaving little room for legal challenges.
If your preference is to go with a solicitor, it is important to establish exactly how much they are going to charge. Some solicitors might ask for a minimal fee - perhaps as little as £50 - to write your Will. They may also, however, want a percentage of your estate - anything from 3% to 9% - to act as the Will’s executor. Think about it: 5% of a £250,000 estate is £12,500 - an awful lot of money for a Will.
The final option is a professional estate planner and Will-writer.
As Peter says it is important to choose a specialist with precise legal expertise and training. A good estate planner will help you to take a step back, look at your situation now and what you want to achieve for the benefit of your family, loved ones or a charity going forward. Your Will won’t just name financial beneficiaries, it will ensure loved-ones are properly looked after, according to your wishes.
“Wills are all we do, day-in, day-out. We don’t dabble, we don’t do this as an add-on,” says Peter. “We roll our sleeves up to find out what the customer is trying to achieve and put proper estate planning in place to help them achieve it.”
At the end of the day, you pay your money, you make your choice. Whatever you do, whichever option you choose, don’t be afraid to ask questions to ensure you are getting what is right for you. And even if you have some plans in place, it is beneficial to get a second opinion.
We have teamed up with The Will Writing Company, part of the Estate Planning Group, to offer our customers expert estate planning advice – everything from basic Wills to protecting your assets against various threats in later life - at your local branch or in the comfort of your own home.
To find out more about our Will writing service, call your nearest branch or call our customer service team on 0344 481 126 to book an appointment with a consultant.