Writing a Will and putting it in place is one of the most important things that you can do during your lifetime. A Will allows you to control how all of your assets are distributed and to whom. This includes any money, property and possessions that you own. Given the necessity to have a Will, more and more people are drawing up their own Wills, however without legal advice, these may not be sufficient for your needs
Topics to be answered in this article
What is a DIY Will
A DIY Will is a document that is drawn up by yourself which includes how you wish your assets to be distributed. You can do this yourself or you can pay a small fee for a company to provide you with a ‘Will Pack’ to help you consider what to put in your Will. Often these Will Packs are basic in nature and do not provoke any further thought into more complex issues that your executors may face when trying to administer your estate. The society that we live in means that most Wills that are drafted are not basic and people need more advice than they initially think.
Are DIY Wills legal?
Although it is perfectly legal to do a DIY Will, caution must be taken with drafting you own Will as there are strict rules on the signature and witnessing of your Will.
When is it appropriate to write your own Will?
As mentioned above, if you are looking to draft a basic Will then it may be appropriate to do your own Will. If you believe that your assets or financial situation is simple, then a DIY Will could be an option for you. It is important to note that even if you feel that you do not own enough assets to warrant drafting a Will, you should still put a Will in place.
Dangers of a DIY Will
1.May not be valid
One of the biggest dangers of a DIY Will is that it may not be valid. There are a number of ways in which it may be rendered invalid and this starts with it not being signed and witnessed correctly or that it contains significant errors. It is important to make sure that your Will is valid and addresses everything you need it to. This is because if your Will is deemed invalid, then your assets will be administered in line with the intestacy rules (to die without a Will). This will mean that you no longer have control as to where your assets go when you pass away. This is why it is so important to make sure that your Will is not only correct but also kept up to date. We recommend that you review your Will every 3-5 years to ensure that you are still happy with it.
2. Easier to contest the Will
There is more scope for someone to try and contest the contents of your DIY Will. This means that if your direct descendant is not happy with your Will for any reason e.g. they are excluded from the Will and they believe that they shouldn’t be or you leave your children unequal amounts, then they have more of a chance of arguing that the Will is invalid or to argue that the Will did not reflect your wishes.
Moreover, someone contesting your Will could propose that you were under pressure to make your Will in this way or that you did not have capacity at the time of writing your Will and therefore the Will is invalid. It is difficult to prove that you did or didn’t have capacity or that you weren’t under any pressure when writing your Will as you have done this at home in front of two lay witnesses who will inevitably not document you signing your Will.
3. Missed important areas
Your Will can address issues that you may not think of such as inheritance tax planning and even asset protection particularly in relation to care home fees. There is certainly a rise in people becoming more and more concerned about care home fees and it is likely that your DIY Will, will not consider these issues.
How can Goughs help?
If you believe that you may need legal advice in relation to asset protection, inheritance tax planning or that you just want peace of mind that your Will is done correctly, then our experienced Will writing solicitors can help with this. Our lawyers can help with dealing with difficult issues and are here to help you get through tricky conversations and questions that you have.
If you are unsure about your Will or not sure if you need a Will, you can always contact a member of our team who will be able to help you consider your next steps.