Why a DIY Will can be an expensive mistake
The potential danger of DIY Wills has been highlighted by a significant surge in the number of disputes ending up in the court room.
There has been a dramatic 62 per cent increase over two years with 368 disputes about probate - the legal process for executing a Will - heard in the High Court last year compared to 282 cases in 2017 and 227 in 2016.
Despite the fact that the number of people getting round to making a Will is down, those choosing to use a DIY Will writing service is higher than ever before. This is considered a key factor in the rise in court cases.
Couple this with the suggestion that we are as a nation becoming more litigious - another recent survey said more than 12.6 million people are now prepared to go to court to contest a Will - and there is a clear indication that the upwards trend in the number of legal disputes is likely to continue.
What's wrong with DIY Wills?
Understandably, for many people, price is a key consideration when it comes to making a Will. And there's no doubt about it, DIY will writing kits are cheap. They are available on-line for as little as £6.99.
The trouble is, making a Will is not always a straightforward process, meaning going for the cheapest option can end up being a false economy with huge repercussions.
The vast majority of the public are unaware that the DIY Will writing market is unregulated which means you have nowhere to go for redress if something goes wrong. Also, there are often hidden costs like being charged an annual fee for Will storage.
Major problems can arise later if the Will:
- Contains errors and omissions which result in assets being distributed to the wrong people;
- Creates unnecessary tax liability;
- Creates a conflict of interest by appointing a family member who is also a beneficiary to administer the estate;
- Is not updated after major life events including getting married or divorced. Getting married automatically revokes all previous Wills;
- Was not witnessed properly by two independent adults, who are not beneficiaries, at the same time;
- Contains misspelled names;
- Is not signed and dated correctly.
Peace of mind
Any Will can end up being challenged or contested if someone thinks they have not been left what they were promised, but a properly and professionally drawn up Will by a solicitor is likely to be far easier to defend.
If you have a complex situation, the solicitor will advise you how to protect your wishes. There may be other crucial steps to take in addition to making the Will. For example, seeking a mental capacity report or putting a statement with the Will explaining why you have left someone out.
A correctly drawn Will is an inexpensive way of avoiding difficulties for your relatives and friends in the future in the event of your death and brings peace of mind by putting you in control of the final destination of your estate.
It also gives you the chance to take wealth preservation steps to structure your affairs, not only to minimise your liability for inheritance tax, but to maximise tax relief too.
How Wards Solicitors can help
Our acclaimed and experienced team of Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity lawyers offer a number of options when it comes to drawing up Wills:
- We offer a personal Will writing service. Fixed prices start at £255 (plus VAT) for a single Will and £395 (plus VAT) for two similar Wills. We can advise on costs more accurately when we know your specific personal circumstances;
- If your Will is straightforward, we have an on-line Will writing service costing £160 (plus VAT) for a single Will and £260 (plus VAT) for two similar Wills. You simply complete the form and we draft the Will and send it to you for approval. Once you are happy, we produce the Will for signing and witnessing, which you can do at our offices for no extra cost.
For advice on making or updating a Will, please contact our Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity Team.