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Do it yourself wills – problems and pitfalls

homemade wills

Homemade Wills or Do It Yourself Wills often seem like a very convenient and cheap way to address an often difficult situation of how to deal with your affairs when you die.  It is the case that you can often pick up a homemade will for as little as £10. Alternatively, you could use the services of a will writer, who is not a solicitor, for as little as £35.00. 

What happens if it goes wrong?

Our litigation lawyers, who deal with contentious probate disputes, see the problems that occur as a result of making a do-it-yourself Will or using Will writers. Subsequently, these often poorly drafted or incorrectly executed Wills may be challenged for a number of reasons.

This results in costly litigation and often causes further rifts in families at an already difficult time. When a Will goes wrong, people may lose their only source of income. Property is left in limbo, and the financial and emotional cost of dealing with the fallout can be huge. 

You may save some money at the time by not hiring a Solicitor, but in the long run, it could turn out to be a lot more expensive. 

Just a few common reasons why a Will may be invalid or cause other legal issues; 

  • The Will is poorly worded and open to interpretation. 
  • Complexities such as a property owned by an individual which is located abroad or other foreign investments are not catered for in the majority of homemade Wills. 
  • The Will is not executed correctly. A classic example of this is witnesses.  Do it yourself  Wills are often incorrectly signed and witnessed, which results in them being held to be invalid. 
  • Dependants are left out of the Will, which leaves it open to challenge. 
  • A homemade Will does not usually deal with the inheritance tax position. 
If your Will is found to be invalid, the laws of intestacy (having no Will) will apply and these can have unexpected results. How your assets are distributed may not be how you chose. 

Changes to your Will

If once the Will has been drafted an individual’s circumstances change, further amendments will need to be made. People are surprised to learn that a Will is revoked automatically on marriage. That is unless the Will has been drafted in contemplation of marriage to a particular person. 

If a person is divorced, this does not revoke a Will. It is the case that the divorced spouse is treated as if they had died, which may have unintended consequences regarding the dispersal of assets. 

If changes need to be made, whether it’s a change of Beneficiary or choosing a different Executor, it is not the case that you can just remove one name on the document and replace it with another. When making changes, there are two main options; create a new Will or create a Codicil (a document that adheres to the same legal rules as a Will but is used only for small changes). By instructing solicitors, should any of the above happen to you then you will be able to correctly make the required changes to the Will to suit your new situation. 

Security of your Will

A further benefit of instructing a Solicitor to prepare your Will is that a copy will be kept securely with them.  Very useful if any backup copies are needed. All too often, those who create their own Will puts it away where it won’t be found and fail to divulge the location. Seeking legal advice also ensures you don’t pay more Inheritance Tax (IHT) than necessary. By having an expert oversee the writing of your Will, you can rest assured that your loved ones receive as much as they possibly can. 

Can we help?

Hopefully, we have shown that there are plenty of potential problems as a result of the use of homemade Wills. At Kidwells, a bespoke Will is tailored to meet your exact requirements. It is an important consideration to bring peace of mind for the correct disbursement of your estate after your death. Kidwells have a probate team that can help ease the administrative burden of these tasks. 

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