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Making a Will in 2021

View profile for Liz Fyfe
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Here at Thornton Jones we love to stay engaged and involved and when the subject is relevant to our business we take part in The Law Society's #SolicitorChat which is a weekly Twitter discussion Recently one of our Private Client Solicitors, Dan Cooil provided answers to these five key questions on the subject of 'Making a Will in 2021'.

Question 1

"Since the first lockdown, Solicitors have become far more equipped to deal with clients’ requests via telephone and video call and so in most cases a client can call to make an appointment, the meeting can be held virtually and the client’s instructions can be taken. Behind the scenes the Solicitor will write up the Will and can email or post the document to the client; no need for the client to even leave their home! Any amends can be done virtually too. When it comes to having the Will signed and witnessed, the client has a number of options which the Solicitor will discuss with them. From ‘Witnessing through a Window’ to ‘Drive Through Witnessing’, there are a number of options so there really is no reason not to make a Will during the pandemic."

Question 2

"A valid Will, is a legal document which makes clear who you wish your estate to be passed to when you die. Without a Will, your estate (your money, property, investments and belongings) will be shared out according to a strict set of rules, called the intestacy rules. This could mean that your estate is passed to someone you hadn’t intended. It can also lead to friction between your family members when someone inherits your estate and other family members disagree with the outcome. Any ensuing action can result in distress for your family at a time when they will also be grieving."

Question 3

"Whilst a DIY Will may appear cheaper and is an attractive option as it can be completed in the comfort of your own home, writing a legal document without the experience of a Solicitor can lead to some major errors. Not only do you risk leaving your family in a financial mess, but your estate could be diluted by legal bills and taxes – all could be avoided if a properly written and witnessed Will was in place. Common issues with a DIY Will are a failure to have the document properly signed and witnessed and a failure to keep the Will updated with changes in your life, such as marriage or having children. Whilst a DIY Will can cost just a fraction of a professionally written Will, the savings could be easily wiped out with legal bills after you die.

Choosing to use an unregulated will-writer can leave you exposed to the risk of fraud or misconduct and there is little legal protection for consumers who use an unregulated service. Solicitors however are regulated and must conform to strict guidelines which grants consumers much more protection and guarantees the level of expertise of the professional."

Question 4

"Some say that they have ‘nothing to leave’ and choose not to make a Will. Often these are younger people who haven’t yet accumulated an ‘estate’ or perceived ‘wealth’. The fact is that everyone will have something to leave, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. And whilst today as a young person you may not have anything to leave, a professionally written Will can have the longevity to cover you, should you die after you’ve accumulated some assets since the Will was originally written. Remembering also however, that a Will isn’t limited to possessions as you can specify in your Will things like the guardianship of your children. With the introduction of the workplace pension scheme in 2012 it’s likely that some assets will exist in a pension pot. There may also be a ‘death in service’ benefit from your employer which again would form part of your estate when you die."

Question 5

"This New Year is as good a time as any to make a Will. But traditionally the New Year brings resolutions and one of those resolutions could be to sort out your affairs, which most certainly should include making a Will. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the fragility of life and we’ve heard stories of people dying of Coronavirus without a Will and people believing that social distancing and isolation meant that they couldn’t make a Will. Solicitors have put processes in place to ensure this isn’t the case and so in 2021 solicitors are even more prepared to make your Will and ensure that you and your family are protected."