Why You Need a Will Clarity Statement*
Surely, all I need to do is write a Will that reflects my choices?
In the ideal world, when a Will is written it reflects your personal desires and the beneficiaries understand your decisions and agree with the outcome. With the increased complexity of modern family structures and with the increase in property values, this means that more people than ever before now have a more sizeable estate to pass on. At a time when emotions are running high, possible challenges to your Will may occur. As a direct result of this behaviour, the legal industry is seeing a growing number of cases where people are seeking legal recourse and challenge to either being left out of a Will entirely, or for receiving less than they expected.
A growing "compensation culture" in society, along with people becoming more aware of their legal rights, has led to people generally having a greater appetite and/or incentive to challenge a Will, than in previous years. The number of inheritance disputes reaching the High Court has grown year on year, reaching a record high in 2018.
A recent survey by Direct Line revealed that ONE IN FOUR people would mount a legal challenge against a loved one's Will if they were unhappy with it!
With more and more people relying on an inheritance to get on the property ladder, or to provide funds for retirement, this can mean that when someone is left out of a Will, or stands to inherit less than they were expecting, a dispute may be triggered and potentially result in a claim. A Will Clarity Statement is a document, complimentary to the Will to help diminish or remove challenges to the Will by stating the "reasons why" decisions in the Will were made.
It's all about the "WHY?"
Writing a Will can be tricky but trying to understand a loved one's Will after their death can be agonising for some and not being able to understand the reason "WHY" a decision was made, can be the central reason that leads to the Will being contested.
At the time of drafting your Will, you may be confident that a claim would NOT be made, in which case a Will Clarity Statement is not needed to resolve any dispute.
People can be surprised and hurt by the contents of a Will. The problem is that a Will only details "WHAT" you want to happen to your estate after you have passed away, but it does not go into the reasons "WHY" you want your assets to be distributed in your preferred way way. Obviously, you will not be there in person to explain or defend your decisions which would mean your voice would go unheard against that of the person contesting your Will. The Will Clarity Statement is an opportunity for voice to be heard.
So, what can be done?
Your wishes and reasoning for the terms and conditions in your Will are highly relevant and therefore to be given suitable weight. It is important to both accurately record all events during the instruction taking process and then retain these along with the Will, in order to be able to fully respond to any potential future claims and so protect your wishes.
A Will Clarity Statement
A Will Clarity Statement is something that should be included alongside every Will. The purpose of this document is that it not only describes the WHY behind your wishes but it also includes the WHERE, the WHEN, the HOW and the WHO.
In simple terms, a Will Clarity Statement is a side document, written in plain English, not only, sets out your wishes in your Will for the distribution of your estate on passing, but more importantly, the reasoning behind your decisions and the surrounding circumstances. This is document should be completed with the information provided at the same time as the Will instruction taking process to ensuring that your wishes are fully understood. A Will Clarity statement should be reviewed, agreed, signed and stored with the Will for safekeeping.
To Summarise, the purpose of the Will Clarity Statement is to provide guidance to your executors, trustees and family members after your passing, making clear exactly what your wishes were, but also setting out your thought process at the time of making the Will, speaking out where a Will cannot.
The Will Clarity Statement
For a Will to be valid there are three main formalities which need to be observed.
- The Will must be in writing
- The Will must be signed by the Testator
- The must be 2 independent witness who attest to the testator's signature
Not only does the Will Clarity Statement record the above it also reaffirms that the instruction taker is satisfied that your capacity was not in doubt at the time of execution.
NB* We recommend that you watch the two minute Will Clarity, Know How video for further understanding.
At Real Life Legacy, we include the drafting, review and writing of your Will Clarity Statement with every Will that we process with no extra cost.