The importance of detailed understand when drafting a will
A solicitor left 2 beneficiaries of a will short by £62,500. In Herring & Anor v Shorts Financial Services, 2 relatives were expecting to receive £200,000 for each of them after the death of a relative, Mrs Shemwell, who died in 2012.
The issue was concerning whether a loan trust that was set up in order to mitigate IHT on the client’s death was sufficiently and properly explained to the client. Upon the death of the client the Claimants would in this instance not receive the transfer of the estate automatically, despite being named as sole beneficiaries.
Proceedings in the matter where issued against Mrs Shemwell’s financial advisor and against the solicitor who drafted the clients will.
The Judge ruled that the financial advisor had no duty of care to either of the Claimants given that he was not involved in the actual will drafting. However, he stated that it was, “difficult to resist the conclusion that the solicitor had breached his duty of care to both the claimants and his client”.
The solicitor had relied on an initial meeting with his client before drafting her will. He had not gone into detail regarding trusts or explained the implications of the trusts with her. The implications of which were that 2 beneficiaries of the will where short by £62,500, due to what appears to be an inadequate understanding of the clients wishes and poorly undertaken meetings to ascertain the clients wishes.
This case shows the importance of having thorough and detailed knowledge and understanding of the wishes of the client before drafting a will. A solicitor cannot simply rely on notes that are taken in initial meeting or expecting the client to understand the legal language when signing a draft. The will must be thoroughly explained so that the expectations and wishes of the client are met. This case highlights the importance of having detailed understanding.