Cheap wills - sometimes you get what you pay for

As part of a banking package, many lenders offer their customers the chance to have a will prepared at a reduced fee. This offer has been taken up over the years by thousands of people. The customer may just complete a questionnaire and send it to the bank who then send out a draft will. Most customers will not have a face to face consultation with anyone and even fewer of them will read the small print.

But as ever, the devil is in the detail. A recent case has come to light which is typical of the experience of many.

Hidden in the small print of a number of these wills is the right for the bank to appoint its own firm of solicitors to act as the Executor of the estate.

The executor is the person/s appointed to gather in the assets of the estate, pay off any debts and to distribute the estate in accordance with the deceased’s will.

It has come as a shock to bereaved relatives to discover that a bank’s solicitor will administer the estate of a deceased relative rather than someone known to the deceased. A further problem for the banks is that the fees for these services seem, on occasions, to be disproportionately high when the size and complexity of the estate are taken into account.

A number of the large high street banks have stopped offering these services, but there will be many wills out there which may catch unwitting families.

If you have a will that was prepared by your bank, you would be well advised to obtain it from storage and ask a suitably qualified professional to check the small print for fees and other onerous conditions.

If someone makes a will with their solicitor, this often involves a face to face consultation which enables the solicitor to give full advice as to tax and other implications. Your solicitor has to ensure that you understand the fees for preparation of the will at the outset and the will can of course, include your Executor of choice.

To discuss this or any other wills related issue, contact us.