How to help clients make a will

This article is part of
Guide to saving your clients IHT

Appointing an independent or professional executor could be considered in some cases, although this will bring an additional cost.

Protections and qualifications

Scarlett Musson, business development director for APS Legal & Associates, advocates making sure whoever writes the will has appropriate qualifications and adequate insurance.

Ms Musson explains: “I would recommend ensuring the writer has a professional indemnity policy of at least £2m, to compensate the client if necessary.” 

She also suggests the following before clients draw up a will:

Meeting face-to-face – This is important not only to identify the client, but also to ensure the client making the will is not under any undue influence from others.

Exclusions – If clients exclude somebody from a will, then further notes and reasons why should be documented, should the person excluded wish to contest this.

Storage – This needs to be located at the time of need, and in good condition. Should the will be damaged, it can cause significant problems.

Updates – Updates are recommended every two years, as family circumstances change. Marriage invalidates a will; divorce removes the person from this completely but the will is still valid.

Signing of the will – This must be completed compliantly. By working with a professional, you can ensure this aspect is done correctly, and therefore the will is valid.

It is also important for advisers to make sure whichever professional they work with has a robust vulnerable client policy in place.

Ms Musson clarifies: “Although it will not follow FCA regulation, there are equally stringent laws concerning the mental capacity of the individual(s) making the will.

“Protecting vulnerable clients is not only a legal/regulatory requirement, but also a moral obligation.”

Constant review

It is also important to review your clients’ wills regularly, as circumstances and relationships are always changing.

According to Ms Kneen: “It’s worth reminding clients wills aren’t a ‘one and done’ exercise – they need to be reviewed to reflect changes in circumstances or wishes, for example separation, getting married or remarried.”

Mr Hale adds: “While a will is a legally binding document, it can be updated as your clients’ relationship with people changes and your assets grow/dwindle, so the decisions you make can be reversed.”

But as clients get older, and questions over vulnerability are raised, it is even more vital to work with lawyers and anyone given the power of attorney to ensure any wills have been made with the full knowledge of the person making it.

Simoney Kyriakou is currently on maternity leave