One In Five Faulty Wills Could Lead To Big IHT Bills
If your will contains errors, it is vulnerable to legal challenge
One in five wills contain “basic errors” according to a report from the Legal Services Board today which calls for will-writing to be regulated to improve standards. Writing a will is the first step to make sure you choose who benefits from your assets and to keep inheritance tax (IHT) bills to a minimum. It is vital to get it right because by the time you realise there has been a mistake, it may be too late to do anything about it.
Lack of clarity about the will-writer’s intentions can prove difficult and expensive to sort out posthumously, but the Legal Services Board claims many will-writers are simply “not listening” to their clients. Its report states: “We found consistent patterns of sloppiness, simple errors and poor communication. This often resulted in an unacceptable service for customers. Too often consumers were subjected to unfair sales practices.”
Worse still, the Legal Services Board said it was aware of some “examples of fraud and deception”. Its survey found that 20 per cent came back with “basic errors” in their wills. A handful of the wills were so bad that they “could not be executed”.
Currently anyone can help to write a will. However under the plans will-writing will become a “reserved activity”. This will mean that anyone writing a will have to be registered with one of eight professional bodies.
The Citizens’ Advice Bureau has warned that increasing numbers of people have been conned by bogus will writers, some advertising cheap wills in local papers or offering will writing services door to door. Low-cost or even free wills could prove an expensive mistake, given the sums of money involved in many bequests and most litigation.
But the fundamental problem remains that only a minority of people ever make a will and most of us die intestate. Most people don’t want to confront the topic of death, but many do when buying life insurance which is essentially death insurance, just package better by insurance companies.
Take the sensible route and use a solicitor to write your will, not just a will-writer.