Wills: It’s the advice you pay for, not the document’’

1st Oct 2020
You don’t know what you don’t know! Many of us have seen the advertisements for… ...
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Wills: It’s the advice you pay for, not the document’’

1st Oct 2020

You don’t know what you don’t know!

Many of us have seen the advertisements for cheap Wills and the DIY kits that are available, but are you really getting a good deal? A Will is a legally binding document that is essential in ensuring your assets and savings are distributed as per their wishes. But many people fail to prepare for what is arguably an unsettling eventuality and in the instances where an ‘off the shelf’, DIY approach has been taken, errors can easily be made and go unnoticed or whereby the legal witnessing rules aren’t followed correctly – it can make the Will invalid. Unfortunately, however, if there is no valid Will in place should the worst happen, your assets will be distributed in line with the rules of Intestacy. This can often cause upset and grievance between family members.

When people don’t know what’s involved in writing a Will or they’re unsure what the cost of having a professionally written Will would be, the price can often drive the decision making and lead people to searching for ‘cheap’ (often online) alternatives or picking up a DIY kit from a local retailer. Like Pavilion Row, we think all legal practices and Will writers should want to be transparent about their fees, displaying them clearly on their website (see our fees here). The key here is education, providing clients with enough relative information to allow them to confidently make an informed decision. It isn’t the document itself that you is paying for, it’s the specialist advice that guarantees you receive a valid Will that accurately represents your final wishes and ultimately give you peace of mind that your loved ones won’t be left with any unexpected surprises or unnecessary upset during probate.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the pitfalls you could fall victim to, without the right knowledge:

Will DIY Kits

As mentioned above, with this kind of approach errors can easily be made and go unnoticed which ultimately means your final wishes aren’t guaranteed to be followed; and whereby legal witnessing rules aren’t followed correctly, the Will can actually be classed as invalid – meaning your assets may not be distributed / gifted as you would have chosen. It’s also worth noting here that when a person chooses this method of Will writing, they’re often (through no fault of their own) unaware of the legal nuances, particularly around financial matters and beneficiaries; such as up to date inheritance tax legislation and how to protect and provide for a ‘blended family’ model. We however, can ensure you have (for example) a valid Will that protects both your immediate family and other long-term wishes.

In addition to this, you risk leaving your family with unnecessary financial and emotional stress that could lead to additional legal bills and unexpected tax. A recent study actually suggests that ineffective DIY Wills are the cause of prolonged probate ordeals for over 38,000 families per year.

‘Cheap’ or Free Wills

A quick Google search for cheap Wills will see results coming up from £19.99! Although this may appear like a good deal on the surface, this should in fact be a warning. Remember, it isn’t the document itself that you are paying for, it’s the specialist advice that guarantees you receive a valid Will that accurately represents your final wishes and ultimately gives you peace of mind that your loved ones won’t be left with any unexpected surprises or unnecessary upset during probate. In addition to running the risk of being left with an ineffective or even invalid Will as mentioned above, there have also been numerous cases whereby not being made aware of the small print, has cost families dearly. After all, the devil is in the details. A recent article uncovered cases where families were charged over £30,000 by banks to administer estates. In the small print that many clients were unaware of, the banks who offered the free service reserved the right to be named executor – charges for which were only made clear when probate began. Although extreme, not having an executor of the clients choosing isn’t out of the ordinary, under these circumstances. Many people who opt for a cheap / free Will, often end up with a document that fails to accurately detail all assets. In some (but not all) cases, families are not made aware of the fees for handling estates after death. Any discrepancies after death can go unresolved and cause unnecessary family upset, during what is already a delicate time.

Many of the cheaper or free Will writing services are done online, offering no support and no guarantees. Many cheap wills state that they are checked by a solicitor. Although this may sound reassuring, all they are really doing is checking that the document is valid. A document can be valid, but it does not mean that it is right for your needs or accurately reflects your wishes. What is important is the advice you get. When you speak to a qualified, experienced adviser they know what questions to ask and the relevance and importance of the answers given. They are able to provide tailored advice according to your unique set of circumstances -therefore ensuring that you get a document that truly fits your needs and requirements.

Without getting the right advice and support, you could lose out by paying too much inheritance tax on money or assets that you leave. You deserve the opportunity to ask questions or gather advice from professionals who understand the complexities of Will writing.

Ultimately, there are many issues that can occur if you have a Will written without receiving expert advice and guidance. The most common are:

  • Difficulty locating the Will after death
  • Not updating the Will when personal circumstances change
  • Failure to sign the Will or have the signing witnessed
  • Having a witness that is also a beneficiary
  • Oversold Wills that are unnecessarily complex
  • Having a Will that is valid but inconsistent with your wishes

For us, we have a duty of care to ensure that the Will is actually completed. We don’t ‘take the money and run’ once the document is sent out for signing and our duty of care does not end. We follow up to ensure that the wills are signed and returned to us for checking and provide full support, throughout the journey.

A STEP in the right direction. All our advisers are trained and qualified to the highest standards outlined by STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners). Choosing a STEP qualified adviser means your adviser is the most qualified and highly trained in this specific area of Law and as such, is able to provide you with highest level of services and advice.

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UPDATE ON LEGISLATION FOR SIGNING OF WILLS

31st Jul 2020
This week the Government have announced that they will be introducing temporary legislation to allow… ...
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UPDATE ON LEGISLATION FOR SIGNING OF WILLS

31st Jul 2020

This week the Government have announced that they will be introducing temporary legislation to allow people to use video link to witness a will being executed.

This legislation does not extend to permitting electronic signatures. Wet signatures of the person making the will and the witnesses are still required. Also, witnessing pre-recorded videos of the person signing the will is not legally acceptable. It must be viewed in real-time.

IMPORTANT; the guidance states that the remote method should only be used in an emergency when conventional witnessing is impossible.

When signing remotely there are defined stages that must be followed to ensure the validity of the will and the attestation clause must be changed to reflect that the will has been signed by this method.

We are advising clients that if they need to sign their will via this method, then they must inform us in advance so that we can change the attestation clause. We will also be the witnesses to ensure that an appropriate file note has been made of the signing.

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IMPORTANT Covid – 19 Statement

16th Mar 2020
Given the unprecedented impact of the spread of Covid – 19… ...
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IMPORTANT Covid – 19 Statement

16th Mar 2020

Given the unprecedented impact of the spread of Covid – 19 across the world we wanted to provide details of how we are approaching matters as a Firm and, in particular, how we plan to look after our introducers and their clients.

All of our team have the tools and technology to work effectively from home and provide ‘business as usual’ level support.  Most of the team already work from home on a regular basis and so our systems and processes are already set up for this purpose.  We plan to limit staff being in the office to a minimum.  In the meantime, we are also reviewing all processes to see if any can be further improved.

In most cases we engage with our clients over the phone and so we can, and will, continue to do this as normal.  We are also providing training in non-advice related areas to other team members so that we have more cover in place should illness affect any particular member of the team.  We are postponing any face to face meetings and visits unless they are deemed urgent from a time perspective and the right precautions can be put in place.

We all have a responsibility and duty to protect each other and our families so finally, whilst our “business as usual” approach to supporting both our clients and introducers is paramount, please bear with us if things take a little longer than usual.

Thank you as always for your continued support.  If you have any other queries which we may not have covered, do please get in touch.

 

Angus

 

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HMCTS – Normal probate service should be restored soon

24th Oct 2019
HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) has announced in a recent update that the backlog… ...
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HMCTS – Normal probate service should be restored soon

24th Oct 2019

HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) has announced in a recent update that the backlog of probate grant applications is beginning to fall. With more grants of probate now being issued each week than the number of applications received.

HMCTS says it is optimistic that service will return to normal routine ‘very shortly’, in which grants to solicitors are issued within ten working days.

Through the summer we were experiencing delays, of up to 12 weeks, in receiving the grants.

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Controversial probate fee increase proposal has been scrapped

14th Oct 2019
Robert Buckland, the Secretary of State for Justice, has announced that the huge increase in… ...
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Controversial probate fee increase proposal has been scrapped

14th Oct 2019

Robert Buckland, the Secretary of State for Justice, has announced that the huge increase in probate fees proposed under the former Prime Minister Theresa May has been scrapped.

The increase would have charged probate applicants up to £6000 depending on the value of the estate. Currently there is a flat fee of £155, if the application is made through of solicitor, or £215 for personal applications.

Buckland has announced the he has decided that the policy was not ‘fair and proportionate’. The related statutory instrument, which has for months been awaiting parliamentary approval, will be withdrawn. Instead, the next annual review of court fees will consider making small adjustments to cover the costs of probate applications.

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OPG publishes new safeguarding guidance

25th Jul 2019
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has issued guidance for… ...
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OPG publishes new safeguarding guidance

25th Jul 2019

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has issued guidance for how to get help if you have concerns that someone is being abused or neglected under a lasting power of attorney, enduring power of attorney or deputy court order.

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Pavilion Row receives STEP Employer Partner accreditation

31st Mar 2019
Pavilion Row has been reaccredited as a STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) Employer… ...
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Pavilion Row receives STEP Employer Partner accreditation

31st Mar 2019

Pavilion Row has been reaccredited as a STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) Employer Partner after first receiving the accreditation in 2016.

STEP is the worldwide body in the area of Trust and Estate planning. The accreditation recognises Pavilion Row as an employer that encourages continuous learning and professional development, and supports its employees in developing their knowledge, skills and expertise.

Angus Houston, managing director at Pavilion Row, said: “We believe all clients should receive highly qualified and knowledgeable advice. STEP and the accreditation provides us with the platform to support our staff in growing and developing their knowledge so that they, in return, can give clients the best possible advice.

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We have moved!

30th Aug 2018
To enable us to deal with our growth and expansion of the team we have… ...
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We have moved!

30th Aug 2018

To enable us to deal with our growth and expansion of the team we have moved our offices to Forest Business Park in Fulford, York

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Pavilion Row appoints two new Directors

1st Mar 2018
Pavilion Row is delighted to announce  two new appointments to the team; Lorna Jessop as director… ...
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Pavilion Row appoints two new Directors

1st Mar 2018

Pavilion Row is delighted to announce  two new appointments to the team; Lorna Jessop as director and Head of Finance, and Jenny Slater as director and Head of Legal Practice.

Lorna is a Chartered Accountant and has been working with us in a financial capacity for some time. The new role will see Lorna taking on the regulated aspects regarding finance.

Jenny is a solicitor and a full member of STEP. Originally from the South West, Jenny has recently moved to Yorkshire. She has many years’ experience in both large and smaller firms including setting up an ABS for a financial adviser firm. In Jenny’s capacity as Head of Legal she will be responsible for leading the legal team through our next level of growth whilst maintaining Pavilion Row’s ethos for the delivery and quality of our client service.

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Refund Available on OPG Court Fees

5th Feb 2018
Back in July the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced… ...
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Refund Available on OPG Court Fees

5th Feb 2018

Back in July the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced that the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) had been over charging court fees for registration of Power of Attorneys and that the overpaid fees would be refunded.

MoJ have now published details of the refund scheme;

Anyone who registered their Power of Attorneys (LPA or EPA) between the 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2017 is entitled to a refund.

Only the donor (person who has made the power of attorney) or an attorney can apply for the refund.

It is a straight forward process that can be done online, click here for details. You will only need address and date of birth details for you and one of your attorneys along with your bank details for where you wish the refund to be paid into.

 

 

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Pavilion Row has become an Alternative Business Structure (ABS)

1st Feb 2018
Pavilion Row has today, 1st February 2018,  become an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) licenced and… ...
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Pavilion Row has become an Alternative Business Structure (ABS)

1st Feb 2018

Pavilion Row has today, 1st February 2018,  become an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) licenced and regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC).

Angus Houston, Managing Director of Pavilion Row, said “Our new ABS status is a significant milestone in the growth of the business. We continue to offer advice based legal services for wills, powers of attorney and probate / estate administration and ensure that all our advisers are STEP qualified which means that they are recognised as some of the most experienced and qualified individuals in this area of work. The ABS status adds to this by giving further protection to our customers through the Legal Ombudsman and a compensation fund.

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Proposed probate court fees increase – scrapped for now!

21st Apr 2017
In a surprise U-turn last night the Ministry of Justice have scrapped for now the… ...
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Proposed probate court fees increase – scrapped for now!

21st Apr 2017

In a surprise U-turn last night the Ministry of Justice have scrapped for now the proposed increase in probate fees. They have stated that there is not enough time for the proposed legislation to go through parliament ahead of the general election.

Nothing has been said as yet on whether scheme will be brought back if the government are re-elected.

Further Reading:
BBC News

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