This is a question we are often asked by clients.

According to research, only about one-third of adults in the UK has a valid will. Not everyone needs a will, as, if you don’t have one, Intestacy Rules set out who is entitled to your estate and who can administer it. For many people, relying on this statutory provision this is perfectly sufficient. However, one can run into problems, particularly if you are an unmarried partner, have extensive assets, a wide, dispersed family or if you have specific concerns about whom should receive your estate, inheritance tax or the cost of long-term care.

As a solicitor, I naturally advocate that you have your will prepared professionally by a regulated firm, i.e. a firm of solicitors. This is because we have a requirement to be properly trained, to act in your best interests, to charge fairly, to advise you ‘in the round’ and, perhaps most importantly, to be properly insured. Many companies that write wills do not offer all of these protections, although some are very good at what they do.

I am often asked if I have to act as a client’s executor. It is certainly the case that solicitors have, traditionally, sought to have themselves appointed as executors. However, unless there’s a particularly good reason for this, such as divisions in the family or concerns about beneficiaries’ trustworthiness, I tend to advise clients that I don’t need to be appointed.

It is becoming easier for non-professionals to administer estates themselves. If a solicitor acts as an executor, they will be charging from the start of the matter, all the way through to the end. I believe it has to be in my clients’ best interests to know that, if they appoint a friend or family member, there’s nothing stopping those executors asking for professional help from a solicitor, rather than actually appointing that solicitor. This is important as it allows costs to be better managed, particularly now that so much can be done by a lay executor. Indeed, the majority of estates I assist with is on the basis that I assist only with inheritance tax returns and the application for the grant of representation. This is done for a very affordable fixed fee. Of course, if the executors want further help, then of course I will step in. However, this approach does allow us to split tasks and so keep costs down.

If you need assistance with your will or probate, please get in touch on 01273 284012 or email me on