The trial of Aretha Franklin’s Wills concluded in Michigan yesterday deciding that the homemade Will found in the late star’s sofa was her last valid Will. This verdict ends a five-year legal battle within the family which would have caused significant legal costs as well as a lot of trauma to the family.
This example proves more than ever why it is very important to have a properly constituted Will. Having a Will drafted by a Solicitor:
- A Will is a formal legal document and, as a result, must meet certain legal requirements to show that it has been signed and witnessed correctly. Whilst you may have researched and understood these legal requirements, can you be confident that you will be able to meet them without the aid of a solicitor? Unfortunately, many homemade Wills fail to record the legal requirements for validity thus rendering your Will writing efforts pointless, or at the very least require additional work after death. Even those Will templates and services which record the legal requirements for validity correctly on the face of the Will can be signed and witnessed incorrectly. Instead, you can save your loved one’s difficulty and put your mind at ease by using a solicitor.
- Asking the right questions – One of the key benefits of using a solicitor occurs even before the Will writing process begins. Although important, writing a Will is only one part of estate planning, and there are many other practical and legal matters which a solicitor can help you to get in order. They will be able to identify all the property and interests that make up your estate and ensure that nothing is forgotten about. In this way, a solicitor will work with you to create a comprehensive Will that accurately reflects your estate and your wishes.
- Drafting a Will can be complicated. It requires careful wording and understanding to ensure that your wishes are reflected accurately. Many Will disputes arise out of unclear wording, but by using a solicitor you can ensure that your directions are not left open to interpretation.
- If you have a family structure which does not follow the historic norm of “married once with 2.4 children”, or have complicated finances (whether foreign assets, or business interests, or otherwise), we would strongly recommend that you use a solicitor to draft your Will. For example, accounting for step-children can be complicated and by creating a Will without the help of a solicitor, you could end up unintentionally leaving those closest to you with no inheritance, which often prompts time-consuming and expensive claims against the estate.
- Writing a Will is about more than just setting out your wishes regarding the distribution of your property. By enlisting the specialist skills and knowledge of a solicitor, you can also plan to protect assets from care fees, divorce, remarriage or bankruptcy; or mitigate your Inheritance Tax liability; or choose to make a Power of Attorney when making the Will, so that decisions can be made for you at a time when you are alive but physically or mentally incapable.