Why You Should Use a Solicitor to Write a Will


Why You Should Use a Solicitor to Write a Will

senior couple making a Will with their solicitor

The importance of using a solicitor to help write your will has again been highlighted by a recent case heard at the High Court in August.

The case centred around Joanne Abraham, who had made a will in 2008 which divided her assets equally between her two children, Henrietta and Tom.

Joanne was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 and then with terminal bone cancer in 2017. After electing to stop treatment for the cancer in 2019, she amended her will using an online template that same year and named her brother Simon as executor.

The new will left her residuary estate wholly to Simon, seemingly contradicting the many and various assurances that Jo had made to her children that she always intended to leave her estate to them.

Jo had made several gifts to her children during her lifetime, and in the judgment of the case, it was accepted that part of her intention in the division of her estate was to correct the imbalance in their lifetime gifts.

His Honour Judge Berkley, who heard the case at the High Court, accepted that Jo’s intentions were that her children would end up as equals, and she was “trusting Simon to look after Tom and Henrietta rather than finalising things in the will”.

However, as the 2019 will was not drafted with the assistance of a solicitor, Jo’s wishes were not accurately reflected in the contents of the will.

Judge Berkley said: “A lawyer would recognise her intentions as for the creation of a discretionary trust in favour of Tom and Henrietta, with Simon as trustee to act in accordance with her stated intentions.”

“The formalities would have fallen rather short, but there were no lawyers involved, which is part of the problem. The 2019 will does not, of course, achieve that intention,” said Judge Berkely.

In his judgment, Judge Berkley went on to say: “I find that what Jo wanted to achieve was to secure the benefit of her estate for her children, apportioned to reflect their lifetime gifts, and that that benefit and apportionment was to be entrusted to Simon to implement.

“Clearly, the 2019 will did not achieve that.”

Judge Berkley found that Jo’s long-standing intention was to leave everything to her children and ordered the 2008 will to be admitted to probate.

You can read the full text of the judgment by clicking here.

Wills Solicitors Alton

The case is a further reminder of the crucial role a solicitor plays in drafting a will.

While you may be tempted to use cheap unregulated online services or create a DIY one at home, a will is an important document and should be prepared by a specialist. Without the advice of a regulated specialist, a homemade will can easily fall foul of complex legal and tax rules, creating unexpected problems and, in some cases, severe consequences.

Our Will Writing Solicitors at Bookers & Bolton have vast experience in helping clients write their wills.

We are a regulated law firm with an experienced team providing comprehensive legal advice on wills and estate planning, including a member of Solicitors for the Elderly, a national organisation of lawyers who provide specialist independent legal advice for older and vulnerable people, their families, and carers.

If you want to write a will or need to update an existing one, Bookers & Bolton can help. To speak to one of our approachable team, call 01420 8288 or email enquiries@bookersandbolton.co.uk.