The importance of having your Will professionally prepared

Cases such as this one, Ingram and Whitfield v Abraham [2023] EWHC 1982 (Ch), really demonstrate how crucial it is to have a professional prepare your Will.

In this case, an online will pack was used, and this had the effect of disinheriting the testatrix’s children, who had been the beneficiaries of her previous Will. Instead, the estate passed to Simon, the deceased’s brother, who had prepared the Will.

The judgment of HHJ Berkley, sitting as a Judge of the High Court, included a finding that Joanna had not understood the effect of the 2019 Will and that Simon had contributed to that misunderstanding. Joanna had wanted Simon to receive her estate in order to divide it out between Henrietta and Tom. The earlier Will was to be admitted to probate.

He added: ‘A lawyer would recognise her intentions as for the creation of a discretionary trust in favour of Tom and Henrietta, with Simon as trustee to act in accordance with her stated intentions.

‘The formalities would have fallen rather short, but there were no lawyers involved, which is part of the problem. The 2019 will does not, of course, achieve that intention because Simon, as executor, is trustee for himself and Hilary [Simon’s wife] alone.

Thus the problems with homemade wills were explicitly recognised by the Court. Tens of thousands of costs would have been expended bringing this to the High Court, and a fraction of what it would have cost to have a professional will prepared.

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Read more about this dispute in The Law Society Gazette: