Category: Wills & Probate

22 Feb 2019

Top 6 Things To Consider When Writing a Will

Preparing to write your will can take a considerable amount of time and planning. You’ll need to think long term and carefully consider all aspects of your life. Sheppersons wants to help you ensure that your will is an accurate reflection of how to deal with your most treasured assets and record your requests.

We’ve created a guide of our top 6 important things to think about when preparing your will.

  1. Guardianship of children – If you have children under 16

Some people often write their will after the birth of their first child. When writing your will, you can nominate another person to care for your child until they are adults if anything happens to you and your partner.

It’s important to consider a range of points when choosing your guardian such as:

  • Similarities in lifestyle, values and religion
  • Who does your child have a strong bond with
  • Location of where the potential guardian lives- will it be suitable
  • Who will be able to take on the role physically, financially and emotionally

2.  Assets 

When making a will, it’s important that you make a list of your assets and their values. Once you have compiled your list of assets you’ll be able to identify who you want to give what to.

It’s essential that you note whether the assets you own are owned independently or with someone else for example, a spouse. A jointly owned property will automatically go to the surviving owner.

Cherished items are often overlooked as assets, although they don’t have a high monetary value they do have emotional/personal value. Think about your cherished items as you can pass them along to children or grandchildren as a family heirloom.

3.  Appointing an executor

The executor of the will are the people responsible to carry out your final wishes as you outline in your will. Being an executor can be a complicated task, so when choosing your executor make sure you consider someone who has the time and will be the ablest to accomplish the task.

4.  Naming beneficiaries

Beneficiaries are the persons who will benefit from your will. The most common beneficiaries are usually your spouse, children, extended family and possibly favourite charities. If you’re leaving an estate to more than one beneficiary, make sure you explain how it’s to be shared in order to avoid complication i.e. – include sums or percentages.

5.  Complex circumstances

There can be many complex circumstances that you need to consider when writing your will and you should take note of them. Some circumstances that you may want to consider are:

  • Excluding someone who would normally expect to benefit from your will
  • Previous marriage/divorce or other family complexities
  • Providing for a beneficiary with special needs
  • Being a company director

Make sure you explain any specific circumstances to your will writer for example, why you want to exclude someone or why you have left someone less than they may expect. This can be kept on file and can be used should anyone claim against your estate.

6.  Getting expert advice

As you can see writing a will isn’t straightforward so it’s best to get advice from solicitors. Ideally, it’s best to speak to solicitors who specialise in wills and probate as they can write the document and ensure that everything is in order for you.


Do you need help or advice when it comes to will writing?

If you have any questions about preparing for your will appointment or writing your will, we’re here to help. Contact Stuart Q Murphy on 01923 355 755.

15 Oct 2018

Will Making – When is Pressure “Undue Influence”?

In our specialist Contentious Trusts and Probate team, we are often approached by clients who have concerns that a recently deceased loved one may have been pressurised into making their Will. Is this grounds for challenging the validity of a Will? In short, perhaps – but it is not straightforward.

A legal challenge as to the validity of a Will on the basis of excessive pressure by a third party is known as “undue influence”. One of the most succinct definitions of what constitutes “undue influence” came in Hall v Hall, a case from the 1860s. In this case the type of pressure that would be classed as unlawful was described as of such “character if so exerted as to overpower the volition without convincing the judgment of the testator (the person making the Will)… though no force has been either used or threatened”.

However, some pressure exerted on a testator is not unlawful. In the Will making process it is not uncommon for testators to consult with others (for example, their children) and for these third parties to try to influence the testator into making a Will in their favour. The key is that the contents of the Will must still reflect the testator’s own freely made decisions. For pressure to be unlawful, we are looking for examples of coercion where the testator is acting contrary to their own free will and choice. However, having said that, note that a frail testator giving into pressure for a “quiet life” could constitute undue influence. Circumstances are key and different levels of pressure will overpower different individuals.

Practically speaking, how common are these claims? Whilst we receive a lot of enquiries about undue influence, one of the first points we like to make is that historically successful claims challenging the validity of a Will on the basis of undue influence are very rare. Whilst the legal concepts are relatively straightforward, the real issue is evidence. The person with the best knowledge of the events is unfortunately dead (i.e. the testator).

Whilst we would advise clients to approach undue influence claims with extreme caution, this should not put people off from carrying out investigations if they have suspicions of foul play. There are also linked claims which can be run as an alternative to undue influence and as such, it is always worth seeking a specialist legal opinion if you have concerns regarding a Will.