As with most DIY projects, some are easier than others to get right. I know that my DIY attempts at redecorating my bedroom were acceptable to us and met our needs, but I also know the living room that was decorated by a professional looks better and will last longer. Unlike decorating, the problem with writing a will yourself is that you only have one chance at it and the implications are far more serious than the amateur paintwork in my bedroom.
In this blog post, Melinda Giles discusses the pitfalls of making a DIY will, how an invalid will may cause problems for your loved ones after you’ve passed, and why you should find a solicitor to write your will if you want to ensure security over your assets.
So, what can actually go wrong when writing your own will?
Increasingly, we find that we are representing people who wish to challenge a will for a number of reasons. A will can be defended as being the true last will and testament of a deceased if there is evidence to prove that the deceased (known as the Testator) was of sound mind, free from undue influence, and had no obligation to financially support the claimant after their death.
These are actually quite difficult points to prove without impartial professional file notes to provide additional detail of the advice the Testator was given at the time they made their will.
In the summer of 2017, a newspaper ran a headline that implied that soon it would be possible to make a will by sending a text message.
This was misleading to say the least. Of course, there are ongoing consultations at the Law Commission to ensure that the law stays current and suitable – legal technology is high on the agenda with us all. However, on the issue of challenging a will as above, it can be seen that if this were to occur, a simple text message promising to leave all one’s worldly goods to another could be problematic!
There is also the issue of fraud. There are many cases each year where will disputes arise as to whether the deceased signed their own will, and the initial evidence always sought is that of the witnesses. Although this does refer back to a piece of Victorian law, it is fundamental nevertheless, as removing this level of safeguarding can only be done when other measures have been put in place.
What happens if a DIY will is contested or invalid?
The likely outcome if a will is found to be invalid is that the law defaults to the position where the deceased died without having made a will at all. This could be precisely the opposite of what the person who made that homemade will really wanted.
A will drafted by a professional solicitor will usually be in a good, bold typeface on quality paper and stored safely for you. These are really the niceties because it is possible for a valid will to be on a scrap of paper in handwriting, provided that it is correctly signed and witnessed.
But why take a chance?
Why should you use a solicitor to write your will?
There are several situations where it is strongly advisable (but, in my opinion, should be compulsory!) to find a solicitor to write your will: if your estate is likely to be subject to inheritance tax, you have children from a previous marriage, or own property abroad.
Solicitors are regulated to meet a standard that includes the timely execution of their work, particularly when time is of the essence, such as drafting a will for an elderly or terminally ill person. If you hoped to have been left something in a will but have fallen into the category of a disappointed beneficiary due to the solicitor being delayed in finalising the will, you may in fact be able to blame that solicitor for your loss. These standards are in place to add an extra layer of security and protection over a will.
Find a solicitor for will writing services
Making a will and preparing for your future years is paramount to protecting your assets and providing security for your loved ones. If you were to pass away with an invalid will, which many DIY wills end up becoming, you can’t guarantee your family will inherit everything they are due.
At Giles Wilson, our experienced Private Client team are experts in all areas of wills, trusts and probate. From drafting a will to advice on inheritance tax, we are committed to offering dedicated support to our clients throughout this important process. Click here to find out more about our will writing services.
If you would like to discuss any issues surrounding wills, contact us on 01702 477106 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We also keep our clients regularly updated with the latest legal updates and advice through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.