Will Precedents

I am interested to know what precedent books/subscriptions fellow practitioners would recommend.

I am ideally looking for something which comes in a hardcopy, but which also has an electronic version, for ease of use, not too dissimilar to Tristham and Cootes.

Many thanks.

Martyn Dixon
Harold Bell Infields & Co

James Kessler: “Drafting Trusts and Will Trusts”.

Williams on Wills

Julian Cohen

Simons Rodkin

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We’ve traditionally, and trained, to use Parkers. I would be interested in anyone’s views as to whether Parkers is considered over-simplistic versus Kessler and others, or are others over-complex and not client/testator friendly?

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I would have said that the precedents contained within James Kessler’s books are applicable/adaptable to most circumstances and are written in plain legal English (or at least as plain as the language can be made given the subject matter) – James adopts a modern drafting style and dedicates a whole chapter in his book to the subject. That said, any document that attempts to, for example, carve-out a Residence Nil Rate Band gift, is never going to make light reading, but my view is that James’ wordings make as good and comprehensible job of this as one is likely to come across.

James Kessler’s precedents were a revelation to me when they first arrived. They should be read together with the lucid and incisive book that they accompany. The trouble with lawyers is that our proper respect for what judges have decided in the past inclines us to stick to the old hallowed formulae of words and phrases “of the first part”. JK had a massive spring clean of redundant verbiage but faithfully retained what mattered structurally in a more intelligible style. I used the Encyclopedia of F&P when I began, then Sweet and Maxwells (PTP, PWP and ITP) and most recently Practical Law. I based all my Wills on JK’s versions only consulting others for comparison and esoterica.

Jack Harper

I always use Williams on Wills which appears to me to have far more precedents that any of the other books.

Cliona O’Tuama


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Williams is the definitive guide in my opinion.

Tolley’s Estate Planning argubley the best all round text on wills/tax planning (excluding precedents).

Surprised no one mentioned price. Williams over £500 ?

We use Parkers (circa £150). Great text v price. And Bloomsbury is my publisher - so discount available.

Richard Bishop

It’s plus points are simplicity and clarity. It’s certainly marketed on that basis.


Richard is right to mention price and I have always found Bloomsbury excellent value for money. Also under £100 each the Wildy Practitioner Guides on Probate, Wills, Probate Disputes and 1975 Act claims, the first 2 with an accompanying CD. They are all about 3 years old now and no word yet on updates.

Sole practitioners and small firms must wince at £500 a go. After retirement I have become more frugal. Student books (no precedents) tend to be amazing value. The latest Moffat on Trusts 7th ed is 1080 pages for £37. Scrooge here updated his 5th edition to 6th recently by a second hand purchase for £2!

I doubt I will ever update my Underhill or Lewin. I am however going to splash out in December on the next Chamberlain/ Whitehouse Trust Taxation etc at (semble) £235 or ask Santa to oblige (despite my shortcomings over the past year). Tremendous scholarship.

Jack Harper

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