Be wary of a cheap Will or DIY Wills – A cautionary tale.

Your Will is a document that distributes your estate (property, money and possessions) after you die in accordance with your wishes. It is the lifetime’s worth of your property and possessions. For many of us in Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire, we are likely to have a more than a modest estate to distribute. This cautionary tale about a cheap Will is from 2015.

A woman was seeking hundreds of thousands of pounds compensation from Barclays Bank. She claimed the bank’s will-writing service resulted in her losing a stake in a valuable London home. The Will was sold to the women for just £90.

Barclays contested the claim.

Here’s the story.

A man used Barclays’ £90 cheap Will writing service to create a Will to deal with various assets. The Will included a London home, half of which he bequeathed to his daughter on his death.

The London property was jointly owned by the man and his wife. His wife was not the mother of his daughter. Because of the joint ownership, upon the man’s death, the property went wholly to his wife. This was in contravention of his Will.

In order for the wishes of the Will to be enacted, the joint ownership of the property needed to be severed and ownership re-registered as tenants in common. This is a standard procedure, described in the case as a “simple formality”. But it was neglected. The bank did not pass the instructions to its solicitors. This highlights the danger of a popular cheap Will. “DIY” Wills which given the price they are sold at, are too simplistic to represent anything but the most simple of circumstances.

The daughter sued Barclays.

In summing up the case the Ombudsman concluded: “The half-share in the property in London cannot be gifted to Miss Aregbesola in accordance with the late Mr Aregbesola’s wishes.

What lesson can be learnt from this case?

Where parents remarry and enter into property transactions with their new spouse, Wills bequeathing assets to children of former relationships must be checked.

Banks and insurance companies can afford to offer cheap Wills, such as the £90 charged by Barclays in this case. These organisations aim to profit from the fees generated by administering the estate as executor, after the testator’s death.

Mitchell LuckeMitchell Lucke is a member of the Society of Will Writers. The Society of Will Writers is a non-profit making self regulatory organisation which seeks to protect the public and serve the interests of those men and women who are active professionals in our field.

Contact Mitchell:

Telephone: 01252 904822 / 07715 209729