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A Cautionary Lockdown Legal Tale

As my firm remains open, I and my team have been busy assisting lots of clients with putting their affairs in order, and offering advice and guidance to those who are reviewing or updating their Wills and Powers of Attorney. 

What is clear is that there is a temptation to attempt ‘DIY’ legal work, or to seek the services of unqualified or unregulated people who appear to offer a ‘good deal’. Fortunately, I have seen several clients and been able to save them making serious mistakes, and potentially paying exorbitant fees for no good reason.  

A couple of examples to illustrate the sort of problems we have encountered (and resolved):

Example 1

Mr A wants to make a Will, and thinks that he could do it himself. He ‘Googles’ and finds a document, and then he fills it in.  He wants everything to go to his children in equal shares. He writes that his children should share his estate and he signs it, and one of his children signs it too along with a neighbour as a witness.

Where is the problem?  Well, the document takes effect as a Will (it is signed and witnessed) but a child has signed it.  That child – if Mr A died – would receive nothing because a witness to a Will cannot be a beneficiary. 

I have seen a number of homemade documents where this sort of problem has arisen and by providing proper advice we have been able to honour their wishes.  Over my professional life I have encountered many homemade Wills and, being frank, some were ok, and some had issues that could be sorted out without too much problem.  But there have been many where the intention of the deceased person is not clear in their Will, and means asking the Court to make a ruling; it means the prospect of family arguments and recriminations. It means expense.

All of these issues could have been avoided with professional advice the from the start.

               Example 2

I dealt with the estate of a gentleman who had sought advice from a person who had set up some investments for him.  The gentleman was, by all account, unfamiliar with legal matters and effectively did as he was told by the ‘adviser’.  The entire estate passed into a trust fund set up by the ‘adviser’, and over which the ‘adviser’ had control.  It was completely unnecessary – there were no vulnerable beneficiaries, there was no tax or other financial reason to put it in place and there was no record of any discussion about the purpose of the trust.  A great deal of money was paid to this ‘adviser’ who had clearly sold a ‘product’ without thought or care for his client.

This is something that we see all too often, and which highlights the need to seek advice from competent and qualified professionals – such as a solicitor.

As a solicitor, I take my responsibility towards my clients seriously. I ensure that as a starting point I ask ‘what is the outcome that you want?’.  When I know this, I can then explain the best way to achieve that outcome – whether providing for a child with learning disabilities or to make savings of Inheritance Tax.  There is no one-size fits all – we none of us have the same circumstances, and each Will is something personal to each of us.

We take the time to listen to you, we have the expertise and we are your trusted legal partner.  If you would like to make a Will or review an existing document telephone us now to make an appointment: 01633 867000 or email info@rlo.law and one of our experts will be in touch. 

We are currently offering half price wills to all NHS and Emergency Services employees. Find out more here          

That’s not all!

From now until the end of June we are donating 50% of the fees for a standard Will to the Local NHS Health Board charity to raise needed funds to support both medics and patients. Find out more here

We take the safety of clients and staff very seriously, and we have a range of options available to ensure that personal and expert advice is given whilst remaining safe and complying with Government guidelines. Call us for more information on how we may help.

Call today: 01633 867000 or email info@rlo.law

The content of this article is intended for general information purposes only and is accurate as at the date of publication.

The article shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice.

We accept no responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of the content.

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