Dangers of Homemade Wills
Are you thinking of writing your own Will to save money? If so, please read on.
You may think writing your own Will is easy. Whilst it might seem a cheaper alternative it can actually be far more costly for your estate in the long run.
What if your Will is invalid?
If the Will does not comply with the legal requirements under the Wills Act 1837 it will automatically be invalid. Instead, you will be treated as dying intestate. The law then dictates who benefits from your estate and this may not be the people you named in your invalid Will. For example, a cohabitee does not inherit under the Intestacy Rules. If you’ve made an invalid homemade Will your cohabitee will be faced with making a claim. This could mean your estate is embroiled in Court proceedings for a long time and the costs will be substantial.
What if your Will is valid but contains errors?
Even if your homemade Will is not invalid but there are errors which cause confusion or other administrative problems it could result in Court proceedings. The Court may need to rectify your Will or clarify your intentions to enable your estate to be administered correctly.
Common errors made in homemade Wills are choice of witnesses, misspelt names or ambiguity as to your wishes. These common errors cannot be overlooked. Rectifying them will cause delay and increased costs.
An error in your homemade Will, which only comes to light after you’ve died, can have a devastating effect on your loved ones. It may cause them financial hardship and stress at a time when they are grieving and trying to deal with your loss. Would you want them to be faced with the possibility of not inheriting from your estate or your estate being depleted by unnecessary costs? These problems could have been avoided had your Will been made with the help of a legal professional.
What if you want to exclude a relative?
It’s a sad fact that families fall out and it’s becoming increasingly common for estranged family members to be disinherited.
Doing this in a homemade Will without proper legal advice could leave your Will at greater risk of being contested by your disgruntled relatives. They may argue you lacked capacity or were unduly influenced. Defending such challenges are far more difficult if you made the Will yourself. Having the benefit of legal advice and having the Will prepared for you by an experienced legal professional does not avoid a challenge altogether. However, a legal professional will oversee the whole process, will make attendance notes and can give independent evidence to the Court as to your intentions and the circumstances surrounding the Will you made.
If you want to make a Will and are tempted to write it yourself we urge you to proceed with caution. You may think you are saving money when actually your actions could cause problems, costing far more for your estate than what you think you saved in the first place.
So many of our clients after meeting with us to discuss Wills comment that they hadn’t appreciated what’s involved and how relieved they are that their Wills are being properly prepared.
If you want to ensure your loved ones benefit from your estate without unnecessary stress, worry and costs then we urge you to consult a qualified and experienced legal professional.
Our experienced team Catherine Elliott, Helen Jolly, Helen Phillips, and Lisa Edge are all on hand to help you.
Simply give us a call on 01543 420000 and ask for one of our Private Client Team.