Q1. Do I need a solicitor to produce a will?
A. No you don't need a solicitor to produce a Will. You can buy Wills forms from stationers and there are websites that will allow you to prepare your own.
However, to ensure that you have covered every angle, you should seek professional advice.
All too often, homemade Wills do not cover all eventualities and/or are defective in some way. It can lead to expensive rectification or disappointed beneficiaries after death. Not only will solicitors ensure that all angles are covered but most also store your Will free of charge.
A recent case highlights this point:-
A lady had prepared a Will and kept it at home. The friends to whom she had said she had left her estate to received nothing because the Will was almost certainly destroyed when the house was cleared by well-meaning people and it could not be proved that she had not deliberately destroyed it during her lifetime. The estate went to relatives who had not been in contact with the deceased for many years!
Q2. How do I know if I'm an executor of a will?
A. Hopefully the person who made the Will (the Testator), will have informed you when they made the Will. If the Testator made the Will through a solicitor and that solicitor has been informed of the death, they will contact the executors. There may be a copy of the Will with the deceased's private papers. If a solicitor is dealing with the estate or was holding the Will, you could expect to have been told shortly after they had been informed.
Q3. What happens to an estate if a will's authenticity is questioned?
A. Those dealing with the estate should stop work immediately or at least ensure that no distributions are made. If you are concerned about the authenticity of a Will and you feel that you are prejudiced by the contents of that Will, then you should contact a solicitor who is not acting for the executor immediately and as a matter of urgency.
The longer that it is left, the more difficult it is to unravel
Q4. What information does my will need to contain?
A. There are many things to consider here.
- Your Will should contain your full name and any aliases, your full address, the full names of the executors and preferably their addresses.
- If you have children under the age of 18 you should consider who you would want to act as Guardians, if they were orphaned under 18, particularly if you feel that friends rather than family members would be more suitable for this (don't forget to ask those concerned)
- You should also provide full names of the beneficiaries and the amounts or percentages they are to receive.
- It is important that you consider contingencies too, so that you decide who will receive what if any of the beneficiaries predecease you.
Q5. How often should I update my will?
A. Look at your Will every 5 years but the truth is, if anything in your life changes at any time, it is important to check that your Will still reflects your wishes. In some cases, an out of date Will can be a bad, if not worse than having no Will at all.
A change in circumstances such as marriage (a Will is automatically revoked on marriage unless that Will specifically states otherwise), divorce, pregnancy and birth, deaths and family feuds should be catalysts to picking up the Will and checking it out. If in doubt, talk to a solicitor.
To find out more or discuss your individual requirements in further detail, our dedicated Wills, Trusts and Probate solicitors will be delighted to help. Contact us today on 01603 693500 or email us using the 'Make an enquiry' form. Appointments available at our Norwich, Brooke and Sheringham offices.