Outdated & DIY Wills

Scarlett Stephens - Ascroft Whiteside Solicitors

Scarlett Stephens – Trainee Solicitor, Probate department, at Ascroft Whiteside solicitors.

When dealing with a Probate, I often heave a sigh of relief when I see that the person created a Will. Usually, the Will clearly sets out who the deceased wanted to have as their Executors (people responsible for dealing with their estate) and who they wanted as their beneficiaries

However, I’m coming across more estates where there is either an outdated will or a ‘Do It Yourself’ Will and I have issues with both.

Outdated wills

When you create a Will, you tend to do so based on your current circumstances which is good- I advise my clients to tell me what they would want to happen to their estate should they pass away the next day! But, it’s also important to consider the future. You might choose to leave everything to one person, but if that person predeceased you and your will doesn’t specify a substitute beneficiary then your estate will pass via the intestacy rules. This may mean it’s distributed to people you wouldn’t have chose or it is given to the Government if you have no surviving relatives. It can be morbid to consider the ‘what if?’ dilemmas, but it will provide you with peace of mind knowing you have included a back up.

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Another way a Will can be outdated is if you name a spouse who you then go onto divorce. Once a Decree Absolute is granted your spouse is treated as having pre-deceased you, so any reference to them in your Will is invalid. Similarly, if you create a Will and then enter marriage or a civil partnership this revokes any Wills previously made. As a rule of thumb, you should consider reviewing your Will after a life event and every 5 years.

DIY wills

I have also encountered a number of homemade Wills during my time dealing with probates. Sometimes these estates are dealt with easily and without issue. However, I have encountered Wills where the wording has caused confusion and ambiguous interpretations. I’ve also dealt with Wills where the layout has not been accepted by the Probate Registry meaning additional documents have then had to be produced to prove the validity of the will.

This has only been a brief introduction into the some of the problems encountered when dealing with Wills and estates. Hopefully, you will agree that it is important to create a will and seek legal advice from an experienced solicitor when doing so.

If you would like to create a Will or review your existing one, please do not hesitate to contact us.



Trainee Solicitor’s Blog By Jenny McPhee

I joined Ascroft Whiteside in January 2014 to practise Family Law, working under Lauren Riley the family solicitor at the firm.

I have always been interested in Family Law due to its relevance in many aspects of daily life such as children, marriage and separation. I was a little apprehensive that working in this field would be upsetting or emotionally testing. However, I was looking forward to learning new skills and developing my legal knowledge as well as with working closely with clients on a daily basis.

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I was keen to see how court hearings were conducted and how financial settlements, especially in Divorce, were reached. I quickly adapted to Lauren’s style of working and sat in on meetings that she conducted with clients’ including initial interviews. Eventually I was given the opportunity to conduct interviews unassisted and found this very rewarding. I attended court and got to see the workings of a financial hearing in relation to Divorce; on this occasion an FDA was converted to an FDR and a settlement was reached.

I had the opportunity to develop my drafting skills as I drafted instructions to counsel on a few matters; including a somewhat complex cohabitation matter. It was also interesting to see how counsel and solicitors worked together in practice.

Quote From BlogI advanced my interviewing skills and learnt how to gather all the relevant information from a client at the initial interview. On many occasions clients would get emotional and it was essential to support them but also give clear advice and information at the outset. I learnt early on that you had to be somewhat firm but remain empathetic.

As a new trainee based at a desk in the “healthy” office I soon adapted to herbal tea and high protein lunches. I was informed that bread had no nutritional value and that “clean eating” was the way forward. I embraced this concept whole heartedly even joining a local Gym in an attempt to achieve a healthier lifestyle (and to keep up with the talk in our room of bootcamps and squats).

This however has seemed to have an adverse effect turning me into a secret eater (a programme Graeme Booth and myself discuss occasionally with amusement). Vikki buying me chips on “fat Fridays” and donating the occasional chocolate bar has been a welcome relief from the “clean eating.” It seems food has been crucial to this stage of my training!

In conclusion being a family lawyer in training has been satisfyingly, challenging and interesting. As a family lawyer you have the opportunity to help an individual and support them through a difficult and emotional time in their lives. Hopefully resulting in them achieving the outcome they desire.

All in all my time in the family department has been ………… TASTY!!!!

Proud Sponsors of the Eva Vision Awards

EVA Awards, Sponsor Signature 2014Let’s face it, running a business is never easy. From long hours to seemingly impossible tasks a single day can feel like a lot of hard work. This is especially true if you are a young female business owner.

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Add all the usual business issues to a busy personal life and you have, at times, an almost seemingly impossible mountain to climb. Not only do many young female business owners choose to take on this challenge but many succeed.

That is why we are proud sponsors of the Young Entrepreneur at the Eva Vision Awards.

Ascroft Whiteside in Blackpool Sponser Young Entrepreneur of the Year

“Eva, The Enterprise Vision Awards have been created to specifically recognise those ladies in The North West who are inspiring others by successfully running their own businesses or are at the forefront of their profession.” Enterprise Vision Awards

Many of us aspire for improved equality within the UK but there is still a journey to achieving this. Recent statistics show the median hourly earnings of full-time men in 2013 were £13.60 compared with £12.24 for women.

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Even though women make up 51% of the population in the UK there are only 17% of women directors in FTSE 100 companies (March 2013). Within FTSE 250 companies this figure falls to 13%.

EVA programme 2014
It is for these reasons that we believe it is extremely important to celebrate the achievements of young entrepreneurial women within the North West. It is important to recognise their success, their determination to pull their business through economic hardship and to showcase their example to future business leaders.

“Taking the leap into Enterprise can be a daunting prospect for many ladies and we would like to recognise those bright young sparks that have successfully established a business from an early age. This category is open to ladies from 20 to 35 years of age. So if you started your business between this age bracket we want to hear from you.” Enterprise Vision Awards – Young Entrepreneur

EVA Awards, Sponsor Signature 2014The nomination process has now opened so please nominate yourself or anyone you know that qualifies for this award.

January Blues

Unfortunately the “January Blues” may be hitting you this month for more personal reasons than just the festive period being over. Relationships do not always work out, and sometimes it really is important to go with the mantra of a new year, a new start.

Here at Ascroft Whiteside we pride ourselves on giving a sympathetic and supportive service when it comes to dealing with family matters such as;

  • Divorce proceedings
  • Separation Agreements
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Consent Orders
  • Pre-nuptial Agreements
  • Advice and settlement of matrimonial finances and assets
  • Maintenance
  • Children issues, including contact and residence disputes
  • Transfer of matrimonial properties

Going through a divorce can be a difficult time and therefore it is important that you can find someone to help you with your needs. Here are a few essential facts that you may need to know about getting a divorce:

  • In order to start the divorce proceedings you need to fill in a divorce petition form. This needs to include your full name and address, as well as your husband or wife’s along with your marriage certificate.
  • If your partner has been unfaithful, it is important to know that if you name the person your husband or wife was unfaithful with they will also get a copy of the paperwork.
  • If you have children under 16 or under 18 in education you need to fill in another form that details the arrangements you have for childcare, maintenance and the contact you have with your children.
  • You will have to pay a £410 court fee to start the divorce and to send off your divorce petition – You may be able to get legal aid if you are on benefits or a low income.
  • Once you send off the divorce petition your husband or wife will get a notice of proceedings form and an acknowledgement of service form. They will have 21 days to respond, if they do not respond in this time you can continue with your divorce as if they have agreed.
  • When a divorce is defended or both sides file for divorce there is usually a court hearing to discuss the case.

Regardless of the reason you may need to contact us regarding family matters, we will offer a supportive service to provide you with the information you need. There may be fixed costs available in certain circumstances, but it is important to contact us to discuss any matters as well as if you have any other problems which are not listed above. We are here to help you with a few additional simple steps.

Where there’s a ‘will’ there’s a way

November was a busy month for Ascroft Whiteside as we took part in Will Aid. This is a nationwide charity event that happens every year and means a client can make a will or codicil without having to pay the usual solicitor’s fees.


Will Aid Pen Logo

Click the Will Aid logo above to visit their website

How does it work?

During November you book an appointment with a solicitor taking part in the scheme. As with normal Wills, they will guide you through the type of provisions that should be included within a Will. They will explain all legal terminology and ensure you know what is happening to your loved ones and property upon your death.

Instead of paying the usual solicitor’s fees, you make a donation to Will Aid which is then split between 10 charities based both in the UK and globally. Will Aid recommend a fee of £90 including VAT for a single will and £135 including VAT for mirror wills, but as this is a recommendation you can increase or reduce your donation accordingly. The only criteria set by Will Aid is that the Will should be fairly basic, which most Wills tend to be.

Who benefits?

Firstly, the client gets a Will and more importantly peace of mind about their loved ones and property upon death. Will Aid generates a lot of money for the 10 charities during the month, last year Ascroft Whiteside raised £1662.50 for Will Aid and have had another successful ‘Will Aid Month’ this year. Finally, we get to meet lots of new clients who we hope will return to use our services in the future.

Why are Wills important?

Even though Will Aid is over it is still important to make your own will, and we at Ascroft Whiteside can help and support you through your journey of creating one. Here are some reasons for why it is important to have a will –
•    Making a Will ensures that your wishes are carried out and that your loved ones are provided for after your death.
•    Dying without a Will could result in your family suffering from legal problems as well as trying to cope with the loss of a loved one.
•    If you die without a Will the laws of intestacy determine who will inherit your money and property, meaning that it may not go to the person you want it to.
•    A lot of married people automatically assume that their possessions would go to their partner, but this is not always the case and in some circumstances could be left with nothing.
•    If you have children it is especially important to make a will so you can appoint legal guardians in the event of your death.

What do I need to know about making a Will?

•    You can write your own will but it is important to get legal advice and to set up a meeting with a solicitor to take you through what you need to know, as well as making sure that your will is interpreted the way you want it to be.
•    You also need to get your will formally signed and witnessed in order to make it legally valid.
•    Think about who you want to make a benefactor and whether you want to give a gift to an organisation or charity.
•    It is important to think about who you want to look after your estate and carry out your wishes after your death as well as what you would want to happen if the benefactor you have chosen dies before you do.
•    Sometimes complexities of life make wills not as straightforward and this is when you need legal advice to help make your wishes clear.
•    It is important that you keep your will safe and that the person who you want to carry out your wishes knows where it is kept.
•    It is important to review your will every five years or after any major life changes such as divorce or getting married.
•    If you want to make an alteration to your will, you have to do this through something called a codicil, and again this must be witnessed and signed.
•    If you need to make major changes to your will you need to make a new will outlining why you have revoked the previous will in order to cancel it along with your new wishes.

Will Aid Website

We love that caption “This November a good solicitor will write your will and ask only for a donation to charity” Click the image above to see the Will Aid website.

142 Years of Trading – One Blog

As a firm of solicitors with 142 years of trading history we know we have the inherent experience to represent our clients to the highest legal level. This history does not mean we are old and stuffy. Quite the contrary. We love social media and now we have added blogging to our repertoir!

Once a month, or maybe a little bit more, we will post an update all about us, recent news and the legal landscape. As you can imagine there are a lot of things that go on here at Ascroft Whiteside in Blackpool. It is a pleasure to work in such a vibrant office and we cannot wait to share just a little of that with you.

It’s not a one way street. Please use this blog to message us. Let us know what you think about the posts we publish and share your views. Contact us on Facebook, Twitter and by email to let us know what you would like to hear about. After all we are writing these posts for you and we would rather write about topics you want to know about.

Please feel free to contribute below in the comments section. Simply say hi or let us know what you would like us to post about in the near future.