Problems and Pitfalls of Do It Yourself Wills

Creating your own Will or opting for a Do It Yourself (DIY) Will may initially appear as a convenient and cost-effective way to navigate the complexities of handling your affairs upon death. Home-made Wills can be obtained for as little as £10, and services of non-solicitor Will Writers are available for as low as £35.00. However, as litigation lawyers specialising in contentious probate disputes, we frequently encounter issues arising from poorly drafted or incorrectly executed DIY Wills or those prepared by Will Writers. 

The repercussions of such shortcomings are substantial, often leading to costly litigation and exacerbating familial tensions during an already challenging period. Mistakes in a Will can result in the loss of a primary source of income, leave property in limbo, and entail significant financial and emotional costs. 

While forgoing a solicitor may save money initially, the long-term consequences can be considerably more expensive.  

Why a Will may be invalid

Just a few common reasons why a will may be invalid or cause other legal issues include:

  • 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 home-made 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. 
  • Lack of consideration for inheritance tax, and failure to account for life changes further contribute to potential legal issues. 

Making changes to the Will  

If once the Will has been drafted an individual’s circumstances change, further amendments will need to be made to the Will. People are surprised to learn that typically your Will is revoked automatically when you get married. 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 used only for minor changes). Both options require considerable time and can be costly. 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  

Choosing a solicitor to prepare your Will offers the added benefit of securely storing a copy, ensuring accessibility when needed. Legal guidance also helps minimise inheritance tax, providing reassurance that your loved ones receive their rightful share.  

If your Will is found to be invalid, the laws of intestacy will apply, and these can have unexpected results meaning that you will lose control of how your assets are distributed.  

In conclusion

The pitfalls of using DIY Wills are numerous. At Kidwells, we tailor bespoke Wills to meet your specific needs, offering peace of mind for the proper disbursement of your estate after your death. Our experienced probate team is ready to alleviate the administrative burden associated with these tasks. 

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