18 December 2014
Wills are undervalued and lawyers are as much to blame as anyone else. They are frequently in the bargain basement of legal services, with many providers offering them at very cheap prices. Also some charities offer to pay for Wills in the hope that a legacy is left to them, and in my view there’s a danger that getting a “free Will” serves to devalue its actual worth.
Yet your Will is likely the most important legal document you will ever sign, as it sets out who you would like to be responsible for carrying out your wishes after your death (“your executors”, who need to be people you really trust) and who should receive your estate (“your beneficiaries”, who it is to be hoped are worthy recipients of your hard graft in building up a lifetime of assets).
Your Will is also the last communication you will have with your loved ones. So taking the time to do it properly and setting it all out in a well thought out way is an act of kindness to those left behind.
Many of us still don’t get round to making a Will at all, or if we do, it’s often in a way that does not reflect its importance both legally and emotionally. Think of the hours and energy that go into planning the average wedding nowadays. Contrast that with the time we invest in planning for the last big event which comes to us all.
It’s incredible that people write out home-made Wills without taking advice from an experienced lawyer, or worse make one online over the internet, again without any human contact, never mind intelligent legal advice.
The Will writing market is unregulated. As such, anyone could set themselves up to be a Will writer without adequate training. So it’s important to check that whoever writes your Will is part of an accredited association.
As such it’s good news that The Law Society (the body which represents all solicitors in England and Wales) has introduced an accreditation scheme for law firms that specialise in Will preparation and inheritance issues. The Wills & Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS) is intended to help consumers find a lawyer who will be able to offer genuine expertise and high levels of client service.
Going to a WIQS firm means you will be given the time and expertise, to ensure your Will is a document giving you the peace of mind, of knowing your affairs really are in order for when the big day comes.
Click here to find your local WIQS accredited solicitor.
Gary F. Rycroft, solicitor & partner at Joseph A. Jones & Co Solicitors