Will writing has jumped back into our headlines following the discovery of a handwritten Will under Aretha Franklin’s sofa five years after her death.

Although Aretha had written a Will in 2010 (also handwritten), this document had caused extensive disputes among her close family, with ongoing litigation to determine the most appropriate action.

However, with the discovery of the ‘new’ Will by her niece, dated 2014, last week (11th July 2023), an American jury ruled that the later Will is the one that should be followed, with Franklin’s estate to be distributed according to the contents.

Considering that Franklin’s estate was worth an estimated $80 million at the time of her death, there has been widespread concern about the lack of planning and implementation of a proper estate plan.

Loose Women Segment

Following the news that Aretha Franklin’s Will disputes were settled in court, the popular daytime TV show Loose Women discussed the importance of having a Will in place, sharing that approximately 1/3 of UK adults do not have a valid Will.

Coleen Nolan, singer and panellist on the show, shared how she created her Will in 2022 and following her meeting with a solicitor, she said she ‘felt this whole weight lift off’ of her.

However, as part of this segment, Janet Street-Porter, broadcaster and Loose Women regular, recommended using an online form template as the ‘easiest and cheapest’ way to create a Will. Jane Moore seconded this suggestion, stating that she downloaded a template and completed the process for £39.95.

Coleen Nolan responded that she was “ripped off” by making a Will with a solicitor. She jokingly said that he had better have made his own Will because she was gunning for him now.

This may have convinced many people to go down this route of Will creation. Creating a Will this way is not recommended and could lead to extremely costly repercussions for your intended beneficiaries and family members.

Why You Should Instruct a Solicitor to Assist You in Creating Your Will

Beverley Morris, solicitor and partner at Beverley Morris & Co. based in Blackheath, South East London, says, “Please do not be misled into thinking that a homemade Will is a sensible idea.

Firstly, virtually every homemade Will I have ever encountered has been problematic. It is often worse than having made no Will at all because of all the problems it causes due to someone inexperienced having written it.

Secondly, it is absolutely essential that a Will is validly executed, for if it is not correctly dated, signed and witnessed, it may be held to be invalid, which creates even more problems.

Please always take the advice of a solicitor when making a Will, and also do not put off making your Will in the belief that it is somehow “tempting fate”.

A Will can always be changed later on. It is based on one’s circumstances at the time of making it, namely the people (plus any charities or organisations) that may be in one’s life at the time and the assets one owns at the time. It can always be changed if a person’s circumstances alter, or their assets significantly increase or deplete in the future.”

For more information on this matter, please read our previous articles:

Will Solicitor Near Me

Although it can be tempting to make a Will using a cheap and convenient online form, the consequences of doing so can be detrimental to your loved ones when you are gone. Even though seeking the advice of a solicitor is more expensive than creating a Will independently, doing so will mean that your estate is distributed according to your wishes, leaving little to no scope for valid disputes to arise.

Overall, your main aim when creating a Will is to protect your loved ones; therefore, investing a little time and money into doing so is always worth it to ensure that you have peace of mind.

At Beverley Morris & Co., our private wealth solicitors have extensive experience in supporting clients with a range of circumstances, from large portfolios to smaller estates. To speak to a trustworthy and professional lawyer today, please call 020 8852 4433 or email enquiries@beverleymorris.co.uk.