The firm highlights that less than half of all UK adults have made a will and says that this so-called “will apathy” could have catastrophic effects for families throughout the country – as it means that they will not know whether they will receive the full inheritance they may have been expecting and this could create unnecessary feuds over money.
Partner Scott Rasmusen, who provides family law advice in areas such as wills, powers of attorney and executries, said: “The economy is still fairly flat and we are seeing more and more cuts being made to the public sector, which is leading more people to be fearful over their jobs and finances.
“When times are tough, this can often have a devastating effect when it comes to inheritances. It is often a very stressful and difficult time when a loved one dies, and it is important to ensure that you detail exactly who will get an inheritance and how much this will be – so you avoid any unpleasant scenes.
“When finances are tight, people can be very passionate and stubborn when it comes to money. Family members will feel that they have a legal right to an inheritance and they may fight to try and get the amount that they think they deserve.
“This can cause huge rifts between loved ones, but it is a situation that can be easily avoided by making a will. If you have a clear, detailed will in place it will specify who is receiving an inheritance and should prevent unnecessary tensions between your loved ones.”
Scott adds that anyone thinking about making a will should do so sooner rather than later, and should always seek out professional legal advice from a respected family law expert.
He also says that some people may be tempted to save on fees by drawing up their own will using a DIY kit through the internet, but stresses that this can often mean that their loved ones do not receive their rightful inheritances – as the documents can be poorly written and, in some cases, are not legally-binding contracts.
He added: “Studies show that anywhere between half and two thirds of the UK’s population haven’t made a will yet, which is a very worrying statistic. Out of those that have made a will – or who are thinking of doing so – many are choosing to take the cheap option rather than getting proper legal advice.
“DIY wills in particular are fraught with danger because they can be poorly written, and this can cause a great deal of confusion over who gets what when the time comes. In many cases, a DIY will is no better than having no will at all – and can cause the same tensions between family members over inheritances.
“It is not worth the risk of choosing one of these wills over a proper version drafted by an experienced solicitor. Without the right legal advice, you run the risk of filling the forms out incorrectly or not making your requests clear enough – which could mean your loved ones have to pay extra in legal fees to secure their rightful inheritances or, in some cases, they could even be left with nothing.
“A family law practitioner will be able to help ensure that your document is legally sound and properly worded, so that there is no confusion over who is receiving an inheritance. It is the best option to ensure that tensions do not rise unnecessarily during what is a very stressful time.”
Gibson Kerr is a family-run law firm that has been established in Edinburgh for more than 100 years. It has an excellent reputation for providing a comprehensive service encompassing both property and personal law, including family law issues such as powers of attorney, executries and wills.