The Dangers of Do-It-Yourself Wills

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A Will is a document which states how a person’s possessions are to be dealt with when they die.  Even if their estate is small and their intentions simple, a person should still make a Will.  If you appoint a Solicitor, a simple straightforward Will can start at £195 but this figure could increase for couples seeking mirror Wills or those seeking to incorporate a trust within their Will.

By contrast, an off-the-shelf Will from WHSmith or an on-line equivalent can be priced at £30 or less.  But, while a cheaper option may be appealing, this can be a risky approach if errors are made or the proper formalities are not followed at the time the Will is approved and signed.  Some of the most common mistakes with DIY Wills relate to the execution of the document itself.  If the Will is challenged for lack of proper formalities this could lead to unnecessary delays in dealing with the estate administration and unnecessary legal bills.  If the Will is deemed invalid due to lack of proper formalities, it may be that there is a previous Will which would be admitted to probate or if there is no previous Will, the intestacy rules will apply which may not reflect your wishes.

DIY Wills can also be open for challenge on the grounds of lack of capacity.  If you go to a Solicitor, your intentions and the reasons behind them will be documented, so that if there is a dispute, there is a record of your thought process.  Disputes of this nature typically give rise to significant legal fees for either party or, in some circumstances, the estate. Contemporaneous notes in a Solicitor’s Will file may well avoid any challenge to your Will being pursued, or being successful.
Recently published figures suggest that poorly drafted or ineffective DIY Wills are to blame for a prolonged probate ordeal for 38,000 families a year.  This is makes for worrying reading given that a person’s estate could be absorbed in additional fees as a net result of an invalid Will.

It is said that two out of three people in the UK have not made a Will.  It may be that ‘writing a Will’ is not at the top of your to-do-list but creating a professionally drafted Will now will reduce the risk of uncertainty and potentially reduce the risk of family disputes.

If you have any concerns or questions regarding your Will or wish to discuss making a new Will, please contact our Private Client Team to find out how we could assist – we’re here to help. you can call us on 01626 772441, or email us.

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