Reader's Question

I am married with three kids and have been thinking about getting a will arranged.

I am considering buying one off the peg on the high street but then wondered whether there was any reason why I shouldn't do this. Surely a Will is a Will and it should stand up whatever? Perhaps you could advise and let me know if there are any specific considerations that I need to bear in mind when making my decision.

Expert's Answer

Congratulations in thinking about Wills in the first place which is to your credit. Many people don’t!

However, buying one off the shelf is definitely not a good idea. It can cause more problems than it can solve. I shall revert to this in a moment.

We are all individuals and have different circumstances to consider. You need to have a Will that fits your individual circumstances rather than something that someone has made with no one particular person or circumstances in mind.

“Off the peg” Wills may not deal with certain issues that may be important to you. The legal definitions of certain things in such a document may have an entirely different meaning to that attributable by a lay person. Interpreting this can cause problems and immense legal costs.

Even if a Will is purchased off the shelf and all the gaps completed it can still be held invalid after death if the provisions in the Wills Act are not strictly adhered to. As solicitors we have a duty to ensure that Wills are properly and validly executed.

A valid and professionally drafted Will is the only certain way to ensure that your wishes are carried out when you die.

You can name the people you trust to carry out your wishes in your Will, called ‘Executors’. The partners at Collins Solicitors are always happy to act as Executors.

You can name Guardians in your Will, who will look after your children if you die before they reach 18.

You can ensure that your children, or other beneficiaries, do not inherit too early by adding a ‘vesting age’ in your Will. For example, ‘I give the sum of £100,000 to my son on reaching 21 years’.

You may have views about the type of funeral you would like or the disposal of your body, whether by burial or cremation. Your Will is a very good place to set down your instructions. A side letter, which will be stored with your Will, can be used to add further detail.

Of course, without a Will you will be relying on laws which date back to 1925 which means that, for example, your husband, wife, registered civil partner or partner will not necessarily inherit all of your assets. They may even have to make a claim against your estate!

You can give your family financial security by including them in your Will in a way that would be appropriate for you and for them.

You can give your Executor special rights and powers to work more efficiently and economically.

I trust the above is helpful in answering your questions so that you can bear in mind the above when making your decision.

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