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DIY Wills: Beware of the risks

When you feel the time is right to make your first Will, or update an existing one due to changes in circumstance, deciding whether to create a low cost Do-It-Yourself Will online or whether to go to a Solicitor is not a decision you should make based on price.

If you have a very small estate and only one beneficiary you may think a home-made Will or an online Will is perfect for your situation, and you may be right. But bear in mind it will still need to be witnessed by 2 people. And in order to ensure the right authorities know that you have a Will and find a legal copy of it, you need to make sure to register it with the National Will Registry.

What could go wrong?

If you decide to write a DIY Will there are many things that can crop up after your death that could result in your estate and sentimental belongings not going to exactly who you want them to go to…

  • If you are not married to your partner they are not entitled to your estate, potentially leaving them homeless.
  • If you have been divorced and don’t have a Clean Break Financial Order, your ex could make a claim against your estate, leaving your new spouse and children out of pocket or homeless.
  • Death & Taxes, yes they are both inevitable, but are you aware of what taxes will need to be paid from your estate after you die? And in addition, what Inheritance Taxes your beneficiaries will have to pay when they inherit your estate? (we can help you navigate this minefield)
  • Can you prove that you are of “sound mind” and had full mental capacity when you wrote your Will? If not, it can be thrown out by the Court.
  • Can you prove that you were not negatively influenced or blackmailed into leaving what you did, to whom you did? If not, it can be thrown out by the Court.
  • Do you have a complicated family tree? Unfortunately we see too often step-children, half-siblings, ex-partners or even parents fighting over who should get what, and when the argument is fuelled with grief it can also result in family members suing one-another by contesting the validity of your Will.

The small cost of making a legally binding Will with a Solicitor is worth the investment to ensure your estate is passed on exactly as you wish, especially in today’s complicated family trees and complicated tax laws. Our simple single-person Wills start from only £200+VAT, a small amount to be assured that your estate is in safe hands.

Here are a few real life examples of DIY Wills gone wrong:

  1. Only 1 Executor was appointed and they were no longer able to act because since the Will was initially written, they had lost mental capacity. We would deal with this by having 2 Executors or replacement Executors.  We have had to jump through lots of hoops to get the residuary beneficiaries appointed – delayed the probate process by 3-4 months.
  2. The deceased was unable to write, so two different people wrote out different sections of her Will in different handwriting and different coloured pens. We had to get the witnesses to give statements to say that is how the Will was when it was signed. We are still unsure if the Probate Registry are going to accept this.  If they don’t accept the Will the deceased will be classed as dying intestate. This means the people she wanted to inherit her estate will not be the ones receiving it.
  3. The Will wasn’t dated properly, it just had the year on it, no day or month. We had to get the Witnesses to give a statement to say when it was signed – luckily they remembered because they were going on holiday with the deceased and the Will was signed the day before they left for the airport.
  4. The deceased had dealt with specific items in his Will but it did not have a residuary clause, which would normally deal with any assets not mentioned.  Because some items were accidentally left out or acquired after he wrote his Will, there is a discrepancy as to what should happen to the unmentioned items. This could lead to a claim of mis-distribution.

How Hopkins can help you

If you have previously written your own Will or if you are thinking of having one created, we are here to help you and our legally binding Wills are written for a fixed fee, starting from only £200+VAT for a simple single-person Will. Our highly experienced Wills & Estate Planning team are happy to have a no obligation free chat to walk you through the process, the costs involved and can send you all the initial forms you need to get started straight away.

If you would like an instant quote, complete this short online survey which will help you determine if you have an estate that only requires a simple Will or if your estate may require a more in-depth complicated Will. Afterwards you will receive an email with the full cost breakdown, for your records.

To have a chat over the phone or book an in-person consultation contact our Wills & Estate Planning Team on 01623468468 or by using the enquiry form below.

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