When my uncle died, my father wrote in his diary – Rest in Peace – I suppose it was his way of saying goodbye to someone he had known almost all of his life. Perhaps it was like drawing a line to remind my father that life had changed.
These moments happen to us all as we pass along the corridor of life. There are the key events, such as schooldays, the growing apart from our parents, as we become our own person, forming our own relationships, watching our children grow up, retirement and the death of loved ones.
One of the questions that we ask is what will happen to my money when I die. Two thirds if the people who die in Britain every year do so without having made a Will. That is an average of 1,300 people a day. Making a Will particularly if you ask a Solicitor to help you is a simple and inexpensive task. It will spare your relatives time anguish and trouble. In these days with more and more people living together as partners, the only way to make sure your partner (as opposed to your husband or wife) will inherit your money and property is to make a Will.
If you do not, you are said to die intestate. What happens to your assets depends on who survives you. For example if you are married with children, your spouse will take the first £125,000.00 with the rest being split equally between your spouse (but in such a way that he or she only receives the income from the assets) and your children. Your friends other relatives and charities will get nothing. The only way to make sure that the distribution is done, as you want is to make a Will.
When is the best time to draw up a Will? There is no obvious answer to that question. I suggest that you do so at a key stage in your life, such as when you are 18, when you marry or embark on what you hope will be a permanent relationship, when your children are young, when they leave home, when your retire and when your financial circumstances change perhaps because your parents have died.
Must I ask a Solicitor to draw up my Will? No but the law relating to Wills can be confusing for the unwary. This is why, remembering my initial comments, the letters R I P are relevant.
R stands for Regulated. Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. To satisfy the Authority’s requirements solicitors must abide by strict rules relating amongst other things to the way we obtain work, the information we must give our clients about our charges, the way our accounts are run and many more.
I stands for insured. It could also stand for Independent. All Solicitors must have in place insurance provision, which is there not for the Solicitor’s benefit but for the protection of our clients. If we make a mistake (and we do) and if the client suffers a financial loss, the insurance policy makes sure that the loss is made good. If we had chosen to say that the letter I stood for Independent, then that would show that we are not ‘in the pocket’ of the Government or a powerful special interest group. Most solicitors act for ordinary citizens who need an independent solicitors profession to deal with their legal problems and needs.
P stands for professional. This means that we are confidential, adhere to high standards of behaviour and follow rules and principles laid down by our professional body the Law Society.
One way in which solicitors often provide a valuable service to our clients is by acting as the Executors of the Will. This may be because your family lives far away, is young or old or sometimes because you know they do not have the skill and common sense that executors need to be able to carry out the duties in question. Here again, our work is governed by the RIP principles.