DIY Wills are a cheap and accessible option for those looking to set out their wishes. However, writing your own Will is not always the best option for your family. We look at the factors to consider below.
Making your own Will
In theory, you can draft your own Will with a pen and a blank sheet of paper. However, unless you have some professional experience, this is not recommended. If the wording you use is incorrect or unclear, you run the risk of your wishes not being fulfilled.
While the legal terminology used by professionals in Wills may seem unusual, the interpretation of those words has been the subject of intense scrutiny and in some cases, court dispute. Using the tried and tested wording of a professional ensures that there is no confusion in your wishes.
Purchasing a DIY Will template can help provide some structure and an indication of what to consider. Although, these templates do not provide scope for more complex wishes.
When might a DIY Will be appropriate?
In our experience, DIY Wills are only really suitable if your circumstances are simple. For example, you are married, and you want to leave everything to your spouse, failing whom your adult children equally.
If your circumstances are in any way more complex or you want to make further provisions (e.g. for grandchildren), we recommend seeking professional support.
See “When should you use a professional” below.
What are the real dangers of a DIY Will?
When you write your own Will, the onus is on you to get it right. It is important to remember that:
- A DIY Will might be cheaper now, but if you make a mistake, this could create serious financial problems for your estate.
- The DIY Will company will take no responsibility for ensuring your Will achieves your wishes or that you have signed the Will correctly. If there is a mistake, your family will have no legal redress. In contrast, solicitors regulated by the SRA have to have compulsory professional indemnity insurance.
- Problems with DIY Wills are only discovered on death. So it is your family who has to deal with the fallout.
- If the Will is held to be invalid, the law will decide who inherit your assets. This could mean that your assets pass to someone you do not wish to inherit.
- The legal expenses for the administration will be higher if your Will fails, as your family will need extra support to try to resolve the situation. If a dispute arises due to the DIY Will, the costs incurred will be even higher.
- You will not benefit from any inheritance tax or estate planning advice. The risk is that without proper guidance, the structure you choose may increase the tax burden on your estate.
- While you may believe that a simple Will is all you need, speaking with a professional can tease out issues that you have not considered.
- For the older individual, a DIY Will presents a different type of risk. When instructing a professional to write your Will, they will also make a note of your capacity and any suspicion of undue influence. Without this contemporaneous evidence, there is greater opportunity for the Will to be challenged.
Using a professional minimises these risks and can help you leave more behind for your families to inherit.
When should you use a professional?
We recommend consulting a profession in all but the simplest cases. However, you will definitely want to seek professional support if:
- Your family set up is more complicated.
For example, you have children from a previous relationship, you and your partner are not married, or you have a family member with a disability. In these circumstances, you may benefit from a Will that incorporates trust provisions to protect your assets for your loved ones.
- You wish to save inheritance tax.
The general aim for married couples is to postpone payment of any inheritance tax until the second death. A poorly drafted Will could result in inheritance tax being due on the first death or more inheritance tax being payable overall. £5.4 billion was paid in IHT in 2018/2019.
- Your children or grandchildren are under the age of 18.
- You want to protect your assets from care fees.
- You want to protect your assets in case your partner remarries.
- You want to exclude someone from your Will.
- You own a business that you are leaving under your Will.
- You own foreign property (i.e. a holiday home) or investments.
How can Timbrell Law help you?
A properly drafted Will makes it easier for your family to sort out your affairs after you die and can prevent problems and save money later on.
At Timbrell Law, we ensure the process of making a Will is as straightforward as possible. Our Will writing service includes:
- working with you to understand your estate and how you wish to distribute it;
- drafting your Will and any accompanying documents;
- sending these to you for approval with an explanatory note; and
- assisting you with the execution of your Will.
We know the allure of the DIY Will is convenience. That is why we offer home visits to local clients, evening and Saturday appointments and can connect with you remotely. Get in touch to find out how we might help you.
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