BLOG: Where’s there’s a will


As part of our new regular series, we’re delighted to have Scott Rasmusen, partner at Edinburgh law firm Gibson Kerr, as our first guest blogger tackling as he does the subject of wills and what he argues is the importance of avoiding putting off today, what others may regret tomorrow…

Although it’s tempting in the current economic climate to try and save money whenever possible, there are times when taking the cheap option doesn’t pay.

Providing financial security for our families or loved ones, for example, is an area that requires a great deal of care and consideration. You’d imagine that it would be a small price to pay to enlist the services of a trained legal expert to write up your will – rather than trying to do the work yourself to save a few pounds.

Yet there are many people in Scotland who are deciding to bypass solicitors completely when it comes to making a will and, instead, are turning to so-called cheap deals on the internet.

With a significant number of dedicated DIY websites offering supposedly foolproof tips for creating the necessary documents needed for a will, it’s a problem that has been steadily growing in recent years. And with each of these sites advertising extremely low rates for these services, it’s understandable why many people are being tempted by them.

Of course the problem is that this path is fraught with danger – and, by making a DIY will, you are actually running the risk of leaving your family and loved ones with nothing. Bargain-hunters who chose the DIY option don’t realise that these online or do-it-yourself wills are often poorly written and, in some cases, are not even legally-binding.

Without the right legal advice, you run the risk of filling the forms out incorrectly or not making your requests clear enough – which could potentially mean your family may have to pay extra in legal fees to secure their rightful inheritances or, in some cases, they could even be left with nothing.  A badly drafted will can also cause family tensions, as there is no clarity about who has been left what.

Making a will through your solicitor means that they will give you impartial advice that is the best for you and your dependents.  They can also aid and advise you with any changes you plan to make with your will in the future and that these will help benefit your nearest and dearest.

By having your will drawn up by a legal expert, you will ensure that the wording is precise and legally correct, and that the will is properly signed and witnessed – which will safeguard the interests of the person making the will and their beneficiaries, as well as saving costly legal bills further down the line.

There’s a lot of so-called “will ignorance” in the UK at the moment. Recent research has suggested that around two thirds of the population haven’t made a will, and most of these people don’t even know how to go about setting one up in the first place and they may have an incorrect understanding of where their estate will end up if they die intestate.

More worrying still is the fact that, out of the people who have made a will, there are many who will have either been tempted to buy or have actually purchased a DIY option in a desperate attempt to save money.

Although it’s tempting to scrimp and save, the reality is that you can’t afford to be ignorant about the options available to you when it comes to will-making. The last thing you want to do is compromise the future security of your friends and family when you die.

Scott Rasmusen

Scott Rasmusen is a Partner at Edinburgh family law firm Gibson Kerr.