The process of writing your will

Sometimes, my clients find the prospect of writing their will daunting. Often it is the fear of the unknown that is worrying. Therefore this blog will run you through what happens after you make that first contact with me.

When a date is made for me to visit a client I confirm it in writing with various papers to be completed before our first meeting.

The letter includes some guidance notes on things to think about before I arrive which helps keep the meeting as swift as possible if couples have had a discussion about who is to get what before I sit with them.

This helps to eliminate any unpleasant surprises, like the meeting with one couple and when I needed the details of the children, he admitted to 3 other children that she had no idea about!

Sending out that letter is part of my code of conduct within the Institute of Professional Will Writers and it ensures clients have all the details about me. It also includes my price list so that there are no shocks.

At the first meeting with a client I have to get them to sign my Terms of Engagement – this is again part of our compliance. It gives them a cooling off period if they have a change of mind after they have paid me and before their wills are worked on. The terms of Engagement also explain that I operate a two visit system – I see them on visit one to get their details of what they want to do and help and guide them through who should get what and which people who be best as executors and also Guardians for children under 18.

After that meeting a draft version of the documents is prepared and sent over to the clients so that they can check that I have everything correct. I try and make it simple to understand by detailing all the clients’ personal points in red ink and only the legal wording is printed in black.

I ask them to check that the names and addresses are correct – that can be interesting when dealing with foreign names which I may not be familiar with. I can change any of the red ink if required but not the black legal words.

I ask the clients to contact me within 10 working days so that any amendments can be dealt with or the original documents issued.

This is often a stumbling block in the process as many clients delay this stage. I do get anxious here as if they were to die at this stage they may not have a valid will.

This could be the first time they have written a will and if any of their family or friends were not inheriting something that they were promised because the will was not completed, they could try and sue me. Finally when everything is agreed I make a new date and visit again to be present when the wills are signed and witnessed. This is visit number two.

Again this is also part of our code within the Institute. If I am present I can oversee the signing in front of two witnesses to ensure that it is all signed correctly and that the witnesses are not mentioned in the will. If the clients were just sent the documents to deal with them on their own the chances are that they may not be signed correctly and this may only be discovered when they die and it is too late.

The process is smooth, transparent and I try to make the process as enjoyable, and of course professional, as possible!