We appreciate that Wills are a personal and highly delicate matter, and not something to become subject to tabloid gossip. However, the Wills of numerous people – from the rich and famous to ordinary members of the public – are now available via the public record and have been subject to public scrutiny and intense interest. The Wills of the rich and famous, including Diana, Princess of Wales, Alan Turing and Winston Churchill, as well as the complicated Wills of ordinary members of the public can all be viewed by the general public.
As one of the oldest forms of legal document, there's no wonder they seem to occupy a strange place in our minds. They contain hints to all forms of human emotion and relationships, and yet only 33% of us have one while a further 33% of that number haven't updated their will to include major life changes.
As a result of the sheer number of people who have not updated their will, the number of contestations is on the rise. Official figures suggest that disputes rose by 700% between 2007 and 2012. This can also be attributed to increases in house prices, meaning people have more reason to dispute how an estate is distributed but changing family circumstances also plays a part. The increase in the number of second marriages, step-children and more fragmented family dynamics mean that making a Will is potentially more complicated than ever before.
It is important to ensure that a Will and its contents are discussed with those it affects during the drafting process and that you use a professional Will writer to ensure its validity. It is also very important to make sure that the signing of the will is witnessed correctly and that the final document is stored in a secure location where it cannot be damaged. A Will should not only include details pertaining to an individual's estate, but to their funeral arrangements as well – this should reduce the stress and anxiety for the family needing to make the necessary arrangements.
Have you had a professional will drafted, and is it up to date? Alexander McQueen – the fashion designer – left £50,000 in trust to his dogs on his death, and Princess Diana left the same sum to her butler – have you come across any unusual will requests?