WHEN YOU put pen to paper to sign your last will and testament the expectation is that whatever assets or money you leave behind will safely transfer to your loved ones.
However, failure to draw up your will with the help of qualified personnel can result in severe difficulties for your friends and family after you are gone as wills drawn up by unaccredited or unqualified people do not often carry the full weight of the law.
The Yorkshire Post is teaming up with SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) in order to emphasise the importance of using qualified solicitors to draw up your will and will be hosting a seminar on the matter next week.
Ahead of the event members of SFE have shared shocking examples of innocent people who had drawn up wills without expert legal advice, causing large-scale problems for their families after they had gone.
One example shared with the YP on condition of anonymity concerned an elderly couple of who were contacted by a supposed care company raising concerns about their fees.
A representative from the “firm” visited the couple at their home over the course of six hours repeatedly suggested a family home trust and powers of attorney.
In the end, in a bid to get rid of them, the couple wrote a cheque for £5,000. When they tried to cancel this the next morning they found it had already been cleared, suggesting the “firm” held accounts with all major clearing banks, enabling immediate clearance.
In another instance a client was advised by an uncredited practitioner to put all of his assets into an irrevocable trust.
The problem with this move was that the class of beneficiaries that it specified included his spouse, despite the fact that the client was not married, not had he ever been.
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Susan Wright, a partner at Yorkshire law firm Whitaker Firth and an accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly, said: “Leaving a will should mean your estate can be dealt with efficiently and as quickly as possible following your death.
“A badly drafted will can result in a great deal of heartache and expense for those you leave behind, exactly what a will should not do. Using an accredited solicitor should mean that your will is correctly drafted however if things were to go wrong then at least your family would have redress through professional indemnity insurance.
“All solicitors must be insured and are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, something that is not obligatory to any other providers of legal services.”
As many two in five people in the North do not have a will prepared, with recent statistics showing 64 per cent of people believe all “will writers” are solicitors and 82 per cent assume training and qualifications are needed before becoming a will writer – none of which are true.
To raise awareness The Yorkshire Post has teamed up with SFE to stage a seminar open to the general public to help people understand the issues surrounding wills.
The free event will take place at our offices on 26 Whitehall Road, Leeds, LS12 1BE on March 31.
It will be a lunchtime event with refreshments provided.
To book a place please contact Tim Rogers on 0113 238 8839 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.