What to expect from a meeting with a specialist will lawyer

If you make an appointment with a will specialist to discuss making a basic will, this covers making a straightforward will and you can expect to be in the appointment for around an hour, whilst you discuss the options available for you.

If you would like a more complicated will, which for example includes leaving a trust in your will, then this meeting may take more time, so allow for a slightly longer meeting.

Before meeting a will specialist

Before the meeting, it is a good idea to try and think about what questions the will specialist could ask you and to have rough answers to hand.  

They will ask you information regarding your assets to try and establish what assets will pass on your death. Prior to the meeting, it is a good idea to write down roughly what assets you own, how they are held, and what they are worth.   

By providing the lawyer estimates regarding your assets, they can also advise you on any potential Inheritance Tax issues.

In a basic will, it is usual for a person to appoint a minimum of two people to act as your executors. The executors will be responsible for the administration of your estate on your passing. You may want to consider asking your potential executors, in advance of the meeting, whether they would be happy to fulfil this role, when the time comes.

You should also think about whether you want to include funeral wishes in your will, for example, being cremated, buried or something else. Although your funeral wishes are not legally binding on your executors, it provides to your executors an indication of your wishes that you would like to be followed.

If you have minor children, you may also want to consider appointing guardians in the event of your death. Prior to the meeting, you could also ask your potential guardians whether they would be happy to act.

Now, for the most important decision about your will – who do you want to leave your estate to? You should not be coerced or feel pressured into leaving your estate to anyone and the decision is yours alone to make. 

You can choose to leave pecuniary legacies, or fixed sums of money, to individuals or charities. You may want to consider leaving the whole of your residuary estate to be split between your family or friends. The choice is yours, and the will specialist will talk you through your potential options.

As your beneficiaries’ full names and addresses will need to be included in your will, it is a good idea to have this information to hand to pass to the will specialist.  Do not worry if you forget this information, you can still provide it at a later date.

What happens at a meeting with a will lawyer?

In order for a will specialist to draft a person’s will, they must be satisfied that the person is of sound mind and has sufficient mental capacity to do so.

The will specialist will begin the meeting asking you information regarding your assets and your family background to establish whether you understand how your assets pass on your death. 

The will specialist will then ask you to consider the following roles: 

  • Who your executors will be
  • If you have any funeral wishes
  • If you have infant children, who your guardians will be
  • If you would like to leave any specific chattels
  • If you would like to give any pecuniary legacies
  • Who you would like your residuary estate to go to

The will specialist will then take a note of your wishes down and write to you in due course.

What happens after the initial will meeting?

The will specialist will write to you setting out what has been agreed and their fees. If you are happy to proceed, you are required to sign and return an acknowledgement sheet confirming that you accept the terms.

Once they are in receipt of the signed acknowledgement sheet, they will prepare your will and send this to you in draft for your approval. 

We also send you a letter of explanation, which sets out what each clause means and the effect the clauses have in your will.

If you are happy with the draft will, then you can make an appointment to come back into the office to sign your will. If you decide to change your will at this point and, for example, you want to add or remove another beneficiary, then this is fine and we will amend your will accordingly.

Once you are happy with the draft will, we will meet with you again to complete the strict signing procedure to ensure that your will is valid. 

Birkett Long will keep the original will in our strong room for safe-keeping, free of charge and send you a copy of your will, together with a pack for your executors.

The pack includes information for your executors to be used once you have passed away and sets out what their responsibilities are and outlines what their next steps should be.

Useful links about making a will

How do I make a will?

Planning ahead & later life

Inheritance tax planning

If you would like to discuss making a will or discuss updating an existing will then please contact our wills specialists. Leah Woodnott is based in our Colchester office and can be contacted on 01206 217609 or leah.woodnott@birkettlong.co.uk


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