Quick read

Wills: The importance of careful drafting

Gateley Legal's logo Gateley Legal

Article by

Wills should not be dealt with on a whim  and need both careful thought and attention for good reason. Good intentions are not necessarily followed by the right result and so it’s vital  that professional support is sought out when making a will.

The problem with drafting a will with no help

Take for instance the example of the gentleman who decided to draft his  own will. He had no close family and so wanted to benefit the two ladies who cared for and looked after him, both of them neighbours on either side of his house. As well as this, he wanted to gift some money to his dominos buddy. First of all he used tippex to change his friend’s name in the will, but he did not initial the changes or make sure that it completely obliterated the first name that he wrote. Therefore the problem created was that both names were visible and both were real people.

The second problem was that the will had to be witnessed and he asked two gentlemen to do so. However, these were the husbands of the two ladies that cared for him and because of this, they were not allowed to inherit.

This left a will that did not work at all and instead, his estate followed the Intestacy Rules. Distant relatives were traced to Australia and they inherited everything despite never meeting him. Sadly, they were not willing to share with or offer anything to the two ladies who had cared for him.

Wills need to be updated regularly. In one situation, the deceased had three children and in the will he left a third of his wealth to each of his children, Amanda, Mark and Andrew. Andrew in later life had undergone gender re-assignment and had become Joanna. As the will specified a third to “my son Andrew” was Joanna able to inherit? A lack of sibling affection made a delicate position even more difficult but luckily the end result was that she could inherit.

Being clear is crucial!

When drafting a will, clearly identifying the beneficiary is crucial to ensure that the right person receives whatever it is that has been left to them. Traditionally this was done by using words such as ‘son’ and ‘daughter’, ‘niece’ and ‘nephew’ and ‘him’ and ‘her’. In today’s society gender is seen as more fluid and if an individual does not identify with the being male or female, they have the right and the opportunity to change. The Kardashian / Jenner family are perhaps one of the most well-known for publicly displaying the process of gender reassignment and Paloma Faith has recently said that she has no issues if her firstborn does not identify with ‘his/her’ gender and she has kept the gender under wraps since the child was born. It is therefore only right that with the change in society that this is taken into consideration when drafting wills and other personal documents.

In conclusion, will drafting has to be flexible enough to identify the intended person but to take account of the new levels of acceptance that exist in society today in terms of the way in which people both identify themselves and are identified.

Gateley Plc is authorised and regulated by the SRA (Solicitors' Regulation Authority). Please visit the SRA website for details of the professional conduct rules which Gateley Legal must comply with.