Lickey Wills specialist Sue Jenden explains why it’s best to take expert legal advice.
In short, yes; it’s possible for a homemade, handwritten Will to be legal in England and Wales, provided that it has been properly drafted and meets the legal requirements.
According to a past YouGov survey, an astounding 96% of people who prepare their own Will say they do not need professional advice, with 21% stating that it was the fear of the cost which prompted them to do it themselves. One of the main reasons people prepared their own Will is because they saw the need for legal advice as superfluous. Around one in ten people write their own Wills.
Homemade Wills offer a cheaper alternative, usually costing around £20. It’s even possible to pick up a kit from high street stationers and still cheaper options are available online. While an off-the-shelf Will may seem very attractive at this price, it can be a very risky approach.
If errors are made, or if the strict witnessing rules are not followed correctly, the document could be invalid with often serious implications. Not only do you risk leaving your family with a financial and emotional mess, but also your legacy could be crowded by legal bills or unnecessary tax fees.
Leaving a digital legacy
In as little as two years (from 2012 to 2014), the public has produced more data than in all of human civilisation before that, and it is still increasing at an exponential rate. While digital assets can take many forms, such as online photos, subscriptions, music libraries, social network profiles, savings accounts or email accounts, the majority of us do not have physical records of them.
It is therefore not clear what people’s digital presences will look like in years to come, but we can be certain that an ever-increasing number of people will be creating and accumulating more and more data until they pass away.
A YouGov survey published in November 2018 revealed that 67% of respondents wanted their social media accounts taken offline after their death and only 7% wanted them to remain online.
Recently, Gerald Cotten died unexpectedly at the age of 30. Gerald was the Chief Executive Officer of QuadrigaCX; a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange platform. According to court documents, he had sole access to the digital wallets containing more than 180 million Canadian dollars (£105 million) belonging to the company’s 115,000 customers. His death has resulted in QuadrigaCX being unable to pay their customers.
This case highlights the extreme consequences of not leaving suitable arrangements for the recovery of cryptocurrency. We recommend our clients complete and maintain a Digital Asset Memorandum – the log includes a record of your digital assets to assist your executors and where the passwords can be located. Writing a Will and keeping it updated can ensure that your estate, including any digital assets are distributed as per your wishes.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information on digital assets. Whatever your situation, speak to us for expert advice on 0121 445 5874 or email@example.com
Sue Jenden is a solicitor and an affiliate member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. The firm is a member of and regulated by the Institute of Professional Will writers. Based at Lickey, they deal with a broad range of work including Wills, inheritance tax planning, Trusts, and administration of estates.
In addition, they advise clients about powers of attorney and Court of Protection issues.
Sue says, “We visit clients in their own homes, which is preferred particularly by our elderly clients as making a Will can be a daunting prospect. It seems a morbid subject and this tends to put people off.
”But the fact is that you have worked hard to build up your assets and it is sensible to have a say in where they are to go. We offer fixed fees for our services.”
Tel: 0121 445 5874
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