The Importance of Using a Professional to Make Your Will

A friend of a friend has recently died – naming my friend as an executor.

The deceased has been ill for 3-4 years, and on advice of their friends had made a Will in 2009, and had asked 2 people if they would be happy to act as executors, to which they both agreed.  Over the years, he told many of his friends that this Will existed, and where he kept it.  He also told them that he had made certain “provisions” for them in the Will.

Knowing that his time was almost up, he had been getting his affairs in order over the last few months.  He left a letter addressed to each of his close friends, thanking them for their support over the last few years with his terminal cancer, and also making individual bequests to them.  He also listed all of his assets, and put all his bank details and property details in a folder and left this with his “Will” on the dressing table next to his bed with the letters and notes to be read when required.

He died 2 weeks ago, and the police were called to gain entrance to his property.  They found the papers clearly laid out together with passport, credit cards and all the papers and documents needed to execute his estate, and so they contacted the main executor as shown in the letters to inform them of the demise of their dear friend.

However, when the executor got the papers from the police, they were concerned about the validity of the Will.  It is a 3 page handwritten document, clearly stating it is his Will, using the correct terminology, and does appoint 2 executors.  It also states in the accompanying letter that he is asking his next door neighbours to witness the document and names who they will be.  It then goes on to list all his friends, relatives and people who he wishes to leave his estate to.  He had 2 properties in the UK, plus one in Portugal, and up until a few months ago, he also owned a flat in Eygpt.  The proceeds of sale of this flat are now in his bank account.

There are numerous personal possessions, which are all clearly defined, naming who should receive them.

He had even calculated the total gross value of his estate and what the tax payable would be.  He wrote in his letter that there was enough cash to cover his funeral expenses and pay the tax due.  He left his niece (who was an executor) a sum of £200,000 and his total estate was valued at circa £1,500,000.  The other executor and close friend of over 40 years, was to receive one of the tenanted properties, so that he could receive the rental income to give him the security he so richly deserved for helping for all these years.  He had even made proposals for the tenant’s rent to be frozen at the agreed monthly price for at least a year and for him to be allowed to stay in the property for the year if he wished.

The problem was that the Will had only been witnessed by one of the neighbours – not two!

As the deceased had no spouse or children, both parents had died, and his only natural relatives would be his father’s brother who had died some years back leaving just 2 children, one being his niece who he knew well, and the other being a nephew who he hardly knew and to whom he had not left anything under the terms of his Will.  These 2 inherited everything!!

What an unfortunate thing to have happened!