You’ve line up your executors, trustees, and witnesses. Now you need to decide whether to write the will yourself, perhaps using a DIY will kit, or if you need to bring out the big guns and call in a professional to help.
If your estate is simple you can write the will yourself. If you feel you’re in danger of reaching the limits of your knowledge it’s time to contact professional help, even if it’s just to check over your plans to date.
Many believe that the solicitor or accountant you choose to help with your will should be an old family friend. However, in the real world few people have family solicitors or accountants and, instead, rely on personal recommendation and Yellow Pages. But that shouldn’t matter a bit as long as you approach the professional in the same way you would a plumber, electrician, or car mechanic – with healthy scepticism and unafraid to ask questions.
When it comes to writing your will or dealing with someone else’s estate, the right solicitor can be very useful. Think of a solicitor as someone you can call on when you reach the edges of your knowledge or confidence about wills and inheritance. It is up to you when you feel you have reached the limits; it can be simply how to word your will right up to including complex trusts and codicils.
Consider using a solicitor for the following situations:
A solicitor can act as a trustee or an executor of your estate.
The advice of a solicitor can be invaluable when you’re trying to administer someone else’s will, in other words probate.
A solicitor’s office is as good a place as any to keep your will – they are used to storing many types of legal documents, such as deeds to property.
Some solicitors charge a nominal fee, about £10-25 a year, to look after your will. The fee is often waived if you name the solicitor as an executor, as this can be quite lucrative for them.
Above all else, a solicitor can stop you from making a horrible mistake in your will that can invalidate it or inadvertently disinherit someone precious.
Each professional you consult has their own area of expertise. A solicitor can advise on wills but may not be well-versed on the ins and outs of inheritance tax – you may be better off talking to an accountant. However, solicitors with expertise in estate planning are well honed in the art of writing a trust into your will.
A solicitor usually charges a flat-rate of between £50 and £300 to draw up a will, depending on how complicated your affairs are. If you require specific legal advice on complicated issues such as trusts or administering someone else’s estate, expect to pay more.