Why do I need a solicitor to draft my will or lasting powers of attorney?

Updated: Dec 24, 2020

When the only things certain in life are death and taxes, a will is probably one of the most important documents you will ever make although, in some cases, lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) can be even more important than a will!


Think about it – you wouldn’t question employing an accountant to help with your tax returns, so why question employing a solicitor to draft legal documents?!


Whilst there are lots of things in life that we could do ourselves, there are often benefits to having things done professionally. Saving yourself time and hassle are often top of the list, but with wills and LPAs the additional reasons can be even more important.


Blissful ignorance


One of the greatest concerns with wills is that problems generally only come to light when the person who made the will has died. The same applies for problems with LPAs that don’t come to light until the person has lost capacity and the LPA needs to be used. Why take the risk of living in blissful ignorance when these legal documents are so vitally important? Having your will and LPAs drafted by a solicitor can give you real peace of mind and can save you and your loved ones a great deal of stress, time and money.


Regulations are there to protect you!


Most people are unaware that will-writers are unregulated (and some solicitors from November 2019 will be unregulated too). This effectively means that anyone can set up a business writing wills with no experience or training required.

Solicitors who are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, however, are subject to strict rules and must be able to prove that they are continuously maintaining their professional knowledge. If the person you are dealing with is not a solicitor, then you simply cannot be sure that they are adequately qualified to advise you or to draft your will or LPA.

The use of an unregulated will-writer provides very little protection for you if there is a problem with negligence or misconduct on the part of the will-writer. Even the Legal Ombudsman does not support the introduction of unregulated solicitors. The only way you can be sure you have the greatest protection is by looking for the Solicitors Regulation Authority logo.


Challenges to wills and LPAs


Challenges to wills and LPAs are becoming more common. Even the closest of families can find themselves arguing when it comes to heated topics such as money! Homemade wills or LPAs, or a will written by a will-writer, can be more likely to attract challenges by disgruntled family members because claims are more likely to succeed. Having a regulated solicitor prepare your will and LPAs can ensure that these legal documents are as robust as possible.

Solicitors are also subject to stricter regulations as to how long they must keep will and LPA files, which can provide further evidence to strengthen a will or LPA against potential challenges. A good solicitor will not only discuss your requirements with you but will also be considering your state of mind and mental health, family dynamics, tax implications and more. These areas of law are more complicated than people realise. A good solicitor will often help you to consider aspects of your will and LPAs that hadn’t even crossed your mind!

I am qualified to certify that my clients have the mental capacity to make an LPA (required for every LPA). I also assess capacity for every will so that I have proof that the person who made it understood what they were doing. My involvement would make these documents far more robust against challenges due to my specialist qualifications.


Insurance


Unlike solicitors, will-writers will not necessarily have insurance in place to cover future claims in the event of negligent drafting. So, when the problems are discovered after your death, your family has no recourse at all if there was negligence or misconduct on the part of the will-writer!


Look beyond the obvious


Solicitors are legally trained and qualified to look beyond the obvious. Well drafted wills and LPAs consider and cater for various possibilities so that they don’t have to be re-done every time the slightest thing changes in your life, saving you time and money in the long run. Whilst legal documents should be reviewed every so often, a well written will or LPA is better able to stand the test of time.


It’s complicated…so let a solicitor take the stress out of it


Instructing a qualified solicitor will give you real peace of mind that your will and LPAs have been drafted correctly and that you’ve received sound advice. I can help with advising on and preparing your will and LPAs, usually taking only two meetings at most. I can arrange to visit you in the comfort of your own home, even on evenings or weekends if this is more convenient.

Feel free to call me on 0118 206 6666 or e-mail me at jasmine@jmallensolicitors.co.uk. I would be more than happy to discuss your personal circumstances and answer any initial questions for free and with no obligation.


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