Most cases of contested probate arise as a result of either a lost or destroyed will, badly drafted documents or failure of proper signature and witness protocols with a small proportion attributable to failure to properly provide for a dependent, most often a child.
It is therefore very important, if a testator wishes to avoid putting the family through a contested probate case to ensure that any will is properly and professionally prepared. Are you willing to put all of your assets at risk by dealing with an unqualified will writing service or by a do it yourself will for the sake of a few pounds?
When we die, the majority of us will leave behind assets of some kind. These can come in many forms. For example, we may leave a house or another type of property; we may leave an amount of cash (whether large or small) and we will also leave many possessions behind. These can be anything from jewellery, photographs and other valuable items, right through to books and more mundane personal possessions.
Regardless of the value of the assets you leave behind, you need to make sure you take the correct steps if those assets are to end up going to the people you want to receive them rather than being the subject of a contested probate claim in a court of law. In order to make this happen you need to choose someone responsible to become the executor of your estate (your estate being the sum total of possessions and monetary items you leave behind). This could be someone you know and trust, or a person of professional standing such as your solicitor. The executor will ensure that the right items will be given to the right people as per your wishes.
Some people die without leaving a will, and if this happens it is possible that the people whom you want to leave your possessions to will not get them. The Government has a set of strict legal guidelines called the intestacy rules which dictate what happens to property when a person doesn’t leave a will. If you don’t have any surviving family members and you want your assets to be divided between your friends or go to charity and you don’t leave a will to indicate this, everything will end up going to the Government.
It isn’t necessary to visit a solicitor to make a will but it is advisable. It’s true that there are many DIY will making packs available, but while these may be suitable in simple cases they aren’t always suitable for more complex situations where legal advice should be sought. Seeking professional help will ensure that everything is distributed in the most tax efficient way, complying with all current laws and the legal rights of any dependents you may leave behind.
Many people will have a reason to change their will at some point, often because of birth, death, divorce, marriage or civil partnership. If you wish to change yours you can either completely destroy the original and make a new one or add a clause (a codicil) to the original will to ensure the changes take effect.