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johntywino | 21:15 Tue 06th Mar 2012 | Civil
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My Solicitor made out wills for my wife and myself ( I leave all to her/ she leaves all to me, after second death divided amongst family). Simples....He is executor to the wills..I understand this can work out very expensive (some 2-3% of the totals involved?) Is there a better and cheaper way of making new wills and having the makers as executors ? There's no-one in the family that wants to be executors.. Thanks in advance, John


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If the family/friends are not willing to take on the job then you have little choice but to use a solicitor or just possibly a will writing firm. Or your bank - but they have a reputation for charging even more than solicitors.

And although you say 'simples', no it isn't. The way you've worded it a trust will be created on the death of the first spouse to be wound up on the death of the second. That trust may, depending how it's set up and run, require maintenance - more expense if a professional runs it.

Now that might or might not be what you've tried to describe but it sounds like it.
Our wills were like that but it didn't create a trust. I inherited all of my husbands estate and my sister will inherit from me.
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There IS a trust....When the first dies half the house goes to the solicitor to look after till the second death, when it will pass to our daughter.. This (I think) was to save inheritance tax, and we BOTH hope the solicitor is honest!!
I agree that the question read as if a trust will be created but (unless there are special circumstances which we don't know about) there would seem to be absolutely no reason for it.

A simple mirror will would normally (very roughly) state "I leave everything to my spouse, subject to the proviso that they survive me for a period of 30 days. Should that not be the case, I leave my estate to be distributed as follows". (As long as both wills have the same distribution, and each partner trusts the other not to write a new will after being bereaved, there should be no problems).

If a trust is required (so that the surviving partner can't 'shift the goalposts' after the death of their spouse) then the services of a solicitor are definitely needed to draft the wills, and probably to administer the trust as well. Otherwise d-i-y wills, based upon the principles laid out in this book: User Recommendation
should be fine. (That book is in most public libraries).

Any adult can be an executor. Perhaps there are family friends who could help?. The task of seeking and obtaining probate is usually very straightforward.

I must learn to type faster!
My advice would be to write the mirror Wills such that each surviving partner is the executor of the other’s Will – and only in the event of both of you passing, does the solicitor get his/her slice (acting as executor for the last to die).

Those family members unwilling to act as executors must accept the loss of several thousand pounds (fools).
<<I inherited all of my husbands estate and my sister will inherit from me. >>

If there is no trust you could change your will to exclude your sister or add further beneficiaries.

If there was a trust you couldn't.
It may be sensible NOT to create a trust as you can't predict what might happen in the future and what seems like a good decision now might not be at a later time. Like Chris, i can't see why a trust would be necessary. spouse to spouse inheritance is tax free and the estate would need to be fairly huge to attract inheritance tax. We did the mutual executor thing. In the event, I needed help with some aspects of the business stuff so the bloke who wrote our wills did it on a task by task basis and it wasn't very expensive, nowhere near 1% of the estate.
Unless the estate is likely to be over £650,000 (£325,000 for each partner) then it will incur no inheritance tax.

Inheritacne tax is only paid on anythng *OVER* £650,000.
The mirror wills are normal and if a trust is involved to save IHT I would suggest you do not try to change your will without involving the legal practice that you originally consulted. Usually the main beneficiaries are prepared to act as executors as it is in their interest that matters are dealt with swiftly and efficiently, if they will not, do not press them. Professional executors can be expensive but the charges should be based on time involved not a percentage of the estate and an explanation and assessment of charges can be made.
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Thanks all for the advice, I,ll probably leave things as they are! John
Johnty, for the exclusion of doubt, solicitors can charge a percentage fee, which I have seen as high as 5%, but I would not deal with them on this basis. Solicitors should give you an accurate estimate of their fee before undertaking any work.
I doubt if any solicitor can tell you now what he will be charging in 10 years time - or even guarantee he will still be in business.
It is over some 15 years now that I studied Wills and Probate in detail, but if my memory serves me correctly, at the time the standard procedure for a solicitor acting as executor was to charge his normal hourly rate for time spent dealing with the matter plus 0.5% of the value of the estate. Nice little earner if you can get it - the richer the estate the more you rake in.
"When the first dies half the house goes to the solicitor to look after till the second death"

I don't like the sound of this at all. No way would I hand part of my house to a solicitor in this manner - regardless of whatever controls are placed on it. What happens if the surviving spouse wants to sell and move - can he/she only do so if the solicitor agrees? In any case, I don't see how this can help IHT. If you mean the half house will go into a nil rate band discretionary trust then it would have helped until the IHT rules changed some years ago, but is not relevant now.

If I were you, I'd forget about this, get simple mirror wills done with family or friends as executors (it really isn't that complex & if they need professional input they can instruct a solicitor - they are then in the driving seat, whereas a solicitor who is executor can take as long as he likes & rack up his charges) and scrap the present wills.

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