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The risks surrounding DIY Wills

View profile for Elizabeth Isaac-Garner
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We all like to save a couple of pennies here and there for a rainy day or for that holiday that we are all planning for in 2021. Looking online you can purchase a Wills DIY pack for as little as £11.00 so no wonder people are tempted. If someone confirms to me they intend to draft their own will, I instantly have flash backs of the matters I have worked on where this has caused several issues both emotionally and financially.  Some people suspect that this is only scare mongering to increase the business, however what people do not appreciate is that many of these issues are referred to and dealt with by Lawyers, which can cost far more than a professionally drafted will. Below I set out some of the issues that arise when trying to administer DIY wills.

Signing the Will

Signing a Will in the presence of two witnesses seems quite easy, but many DIY wills are signed incorrectly, invalidating the document entirely.

Naming individuals

When we look at our own families, many members do not use their given names or are considered blood relatives but in fact are not. It is important that intended Executors and Beneficiaries are clearly defined within the Testators wishes.

Correctly disposing of the Testator’s estate

A lot of DIY wills give specific legacies to various people and then omit where they would like to pass the rest of their estate. Many DIY Wills also contain ambiguous terms. This can create either and full or partial intestacy resulting in their assets passing to individuals who they did not intend or envisage to pass their estate to.

Substitutional Provisions

When I take instructions from clients, I have to ask the unpleasant question of where they want their estate to pass should their primary beneficiaries pass away. Many DIY wills omit this instruction. Some clients rebut the idea and state that this scenario is farfetched and not important, but if we think about our holiday plans for next year, a lot of us will go away with close family members maybe several generations and perhaps sharing a car or plane together.

Assets & Inheritance Tax

The Will writing process is a beneficial time to review an individual’s estate. Obtaining advice on lifetime gifts, business assets and foreign property is advantageous and can be done at the same time as drafting your Will.  It is important to assess whether this can be mitigated which most DIY Wills fail to do. Many times I have had to give Beneficiaries the news of a large tax liability that could have been mitigated with the correct advice.

Changes in personal circumstances

Once a Will is executed it is advisable to review it regularly and especially when your personal circumstances change this includes getting married, entering into a civil partnership, divorce and the birth of a new member of the family.

Contested Probate  

When a Will is drafted by a professional there are notes and correspondence to and from the Testator. The file can assist to show their mind-set and can be used as evidence in any claim against their estate. Furthermore, if a Testator intends to proceed with instructions that could give rise to a claim, a professional would highlight this and advise on the different ways to mitigate any claim. Sometimes having an independent person can underline the things others would not consider or wish to raise.

Whilst a DIY Will may seem like an cost effective way of dealing with your affairs, it can lead to potential complications and costs when administering your estate.  

Further information

This information sheet is intended to be for general guidance only and is not a substitute for specific advice. It is based upon our understanding of the applicable rules as at July 2020 and may be affected by subsequent changes. For more information, please contact Elizabeth Isaac-Garner on 01233 665544 or email at mwp@kingsfords.net

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