Why A Basic Will Can Be A Risky Choice...

Basic Wills - they are everywhere! Adverts offering £150 discount if you write a will through charity A, or its free if you go to charity B, or it comes as a freebie with your mortgage or insurance. We are often told ‘I can do it myself or I can buy one from WHSmith’s, or get one for free from my union…I don’t need to pay for it!’ It’s hard to turn down a cheap alternative.


My nanna used to be very wary of such special offers. She would say ‘if it looks too good to be true then it probably is’. I have to say I am inclined to agree with her. If you have ever read the comments sections under a ‘make your will’ Facebook post, you will know what I mean! From the people who declare ‘it’s easy to write a will yourself’ to ‘I only paid £30’ - it's hard to know where to turn for advice.


I want to offer a different approach, a different way of thinking about it by telling you a story. I was contacted a few weeks ago by a lady and her sister asking for some help and support. Their parents had made their wills together many years earlier with the intention of protecting all they owned for those they cared about most, the family. The will left the house and everything else to each other on the first death and then in equal shares between the two daughters. Sounds typical…..yes? I agree!


This is a simple or basic will structure. This what you are likely to get for free and if you are now wondering why I am making a fuss then please bear with me and read on….


The sisters were worried. Mum had died 4 years earlier and the house had passed to Dad. His will was still in place and upon his death it would be shared between the sisters. Dad now in his 80’s had developed dementia and was being looked after by carers as he was unable to cope alone. The sister’s worry was based on the fact that Dad was about to marry one of the carers and this new marriage would mean the simple basic will written many years ago which protected the property for the children would be null and void and since Dad now lacked mental capacity, he would be unable to make a new will.


Sounds crazy right? But it’s true…Dad’s new wife would inherit everything. I wonder if the cashier at WHSmith’s mentioned this when they bought the form, or if the freebie that came with the mortgage explained this fully. I suspect not.


The law can be a temperamental beast and as with any area Wills and Trusts are no exception. To provide the best advice any one worth their salt will need to ask lots of questions and will offer many scenarios for you to consider. Surely that is worth a couple of hundred quid to protect a lifetime of hardwork!