Richard Burcher is brave enough to make some long overdue observations of the task of making wills. If life were simple, wills would be too.
I have been some 40 years in the law and find many wills I prepare unexpectedly complex. Clients are being fed the mantra of there being a ‘simple will’ and do not expect it to cost more than a visit to the hairdressers. Wills are long-term potential risks and the ‘premiums’ we take on them are disproportionately low for the effort and the risk. It reminds me how some Lloyd’s underwriters operated at one time over some of their risks.
And Richard makes important comments about wills for charities (although I think partners can afford to be more generous). There is an inherent conflict if a beneficiary effectively meets the cost for a person to make a will. Some charities seem to behave over aggressively as residuary beneficiaries. Charities would be wiser to exert some of this aggression towards HMRC to persuade them to simplify the tax treatment of gifts to charities of part of the residue.
Well done to those at the Private Client Section of the Law Society for creating a protocol to improve the quality of will-making – from what I have seen, this is a great need. The quality often seems to reflect the poor return for most lawyers. The protocol increases the effort and time required to make a will and (in line with court decisions) widens the scope of our obligations.
But does this not compound the pressure on us while the public demands all this work at a low cost?
Martin Beard, Dawson Cornwell, London WC1