An interesting case was reported last week, whereby a Leicester-based firm of solicitors was being sued for over £1 million by a woman who claims that it did not rewrite a will when it was requested, resulting in a substantial personal loss to her.
The deceased was a wealthy woman who wrote several wills throughout her lifetime, each time leaving the bulk of her £2.6 million estate to her cousin and former GP.
After her husband died and she moved into a nursing home however, her step- granddaughter claims that she wished to change her will a final time (several weeks before she died) to leave the majority of the estate to her.
According to her step-granddaughter, the law firm did not adhere to the deceased’s wishes and she was forced to prepare a will online for her grandmother, leaving it open to a contest of probate by the cousin and GP, which she lost and was forced to pay almost £1 million.
In response, the law firm stated that the solicitor concerned had received conflicting information about the mental capacity of the deceased’s mental health at the time and quite rightly, had insisted about speaking to her about it personally before agreeing to write a new will. Unfortunately, she died before she was able to do so.
The hearing continues in the High Court.
A lady wrote into a national newspaper recently saying that her husband had purchased a DIY Will from a newsagent. When making a will, he left the family home to all five of his grandchildren once they reached the age of 25.
On the face of it, this seemed to be a fair and straightforward instruction. However, as the legal advisor rightly pointed out, this would in fact mean that the Executors of the Will would then need to look after the interests of the home until the first grandchild reached 25. This could mean that if the Executors decided to sell the home to make it a cash asset rather than a property inheritance, the gentleman’s wife may be forced to move out.
This is an excellent example of why, although buying cheap online wills or templates and writing it yourself may seem like a great idea, you should always seek legal advice when preparing it to ensure that you have avoided the numerous legal pitfalls and remembered to include everything.
Remember too that a professional Will writer should also be able, whilst preparing the document, to advise you on making decisions which will benefit your next of kin in the best way possible, including planning your Estate specifically to minimise the amount of Inheritance Tax which will fall due.