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Wills - Solicitor or Home made?

This article appeared in the Mercury newspaper on 7th April 2010

Solicitor Katy Burgin talks about what happens if you die without making a Will and the dangers of home made Wills.


What happens to my estate if I die without leaving a Will?

The danger of not making a Will is that you will have no say in who gets what. Family members who you may not wish to could inherit your assets. Likewise, people who are not blood relatives but who you would like to inherit, such as unmarried partners, may not receive anything.

If you die without leaving a Will you arehome made wills said to have died ‘intestate’ and your estate is distributed according to the laws of intestacy. The laws specify how assets are distributed to family members in a fixed order. If you have no family members then your assets will go to the Crown.

Things can also become particularly complicated in cases where someone has remarried and not made arrangements for children from previous marriages. With the right type of Will it is possible to protect your children’s inheritance whilst still providing for your current spouse at the same time.

I need to make a Will. Do I need a Solicitor or can I write one myself?

Many people write home made Wills or buy Will making kits from stationers in the belief that they will be effective. In many cases they are not because of mistakes made or lack of understanding of the law.

It is important to remember that the cost of a professionally written Will includes the advice given by an expert, such as a solicitor, who is subject to regulation by the Law Society.

There are many rules which govern how Wills are drawn up and witnessed. If you have an incorrectly written Will it may be disregarded or ineffective when you die. This can result in you effectively being intestate and your assets not going to those you wish, and even possibly going to the Crown. The legal costs incurred to rectify any errors in a home made Will may well exceed the cost of a professionally prepared Will.

A professionally written Will can be surprisingly inexpensive and give you the peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out.

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