It is extremely important to get a professional to prepare your will and, often, to oversee the signing of it.
This avoids mistakes, which can result in your loved ones arguing over property and possessions once you’re gone.
It also ensures the document is valid and less likely to be challenged.
In our experience, a DIY will may contain errors that may affect its validity. This could result in delays in obtaining probate or, in some circumstances, it may not actually do what it was intended to.
Executing a will
To execute a will, you must be over 18 years old and have the mental capacity to understand the nature and outcome of the document.
Solicitors know, for example, when it is necessary and appropriate to obtain medical evidence to ensure the document’s validity.
The professional drafting of the will helps to prevent any future issues or doubts.
Reflecting your needs
A DIY will is unlikely to reflect your needs and circumstances fully.
An experienced wills lawyer will consider issues such second marriages, stepchildren or your own children with a stepparent, and your special relationships with other relatives and friends.
What are the problems with DIY wills?
Some examples of problems that could arise with a DIY will are:
- Your will is incorrectly signed and witnessed which will result in the document being invalid.
- You forget to mention specific assets or wishes.
- You fail to consider your mortgage and other liabilities.
- You don’t mention your marital status or living arrangements.
- There may be people that will have a dependency claim against your estate (a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975) and this needs to be considered.
- You fail to consider trusts that could be in your best interest to arrange.
- Changes and amendments are made but are not valid.
- Inappropriate executors of your estate are appointed.
What if my DIY will is deemed invalid?
If your will is determined to be invalid, then either your previous will shall stand, or the rules of intestacy will be applied to your estate.
This may not be how you want your estate to be distributed.
Family disputes regarding the validity of a will are stressful, time consuming and can be very costly.
Whilst solicitors acting for your family members once you are gone, should strive to resolve disputes quickly as far as possible (as we do), there will still be a worrying period of time for your loved ones and costs incurred.
All of this can be more easily avoided if a professional prepares your will.
Concerned about a DIY will?
If you’re the relative of someone who recently died and a DIY will was executed that you are concerned about, we can assist and provide immediate advice as to its validity and the steps to be taken.
You may be the executor or beneficiary of a DIY will that relatives wish to contest.
You need to proceed carefully and obtain legal advice as soon as possible.
We can help
Contact our Dispute Resolution Team now to speak to a solicitor about your situation regarding a DIY will.
If you have executed a DIY will and think it needs to be reviewed and prepared again, our Wills and Probate Team of lawyers can assist.
Call 01772 799 600 to arrange a free initial discussion with one of our specialists.
Article by Katy Rider, senior associate solicitor in Dispute Resolution and Associate member of ACTAPS (the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialist) after recently completing the 2-year Education Course.