No peace of mind with DIY wills

06 August 2015

Lucy Butterfint, senior solicitor in our Beverley office, has extensive experience in will, probate, trusts and inheritance tax planning. In this blog post Lucy looks at some of the headaches that can come about as a result of DIY wills.

Dying without having made a will can cause a headache for your family, but worse headaches have resulted from DIY wills, such as those recently promoted in the tabloid press.


A DIY Will pack, wherever you get it from, can be a disaster waiting to happen, even in straightforward circumstances. At Wilkin Chapman solicitors we have dealt with numerous cases over the years, where DIY wills have been invalid for various reasons, including:

  • having been incorrectly witnessed, or not witnessed at all; and
  • being invalid for uncertainty where beneficiaries were not properly identified.

Where no valid will exists, the intestacy rules apply instead.  The resulting division of the estate often does not reflect the wishes expressed in the failed DIY will, such as:

  • Estates which have been divided equally between all surviving children, whereas in one case the testator wished to make greater provision for a disabled child, and another intended to exclude an estranged child altogether; and
  • Friends, relations and charitable organisations missing out on cash gifts.

DIY wills also seem to be a recipe for amnesia. We have seen cases where people have forgotten to appoint executors, or have forgotten about assets (like their house), their children, and sometimes, even their spouses.

 
The costs of unravelling the problems caused by a poorly drafted or invalid homemade will, especially where litigation ensues, are invariably far greater than the cost of doing the job properly in the first place.


Finally, when planning a holiday, it is wise to check that your will is up to date. Whether you are travelling without your children, or if you have adventurous activities on the itinerary, making a will before you go should be a consideration. Either way, our legal experts are here to advise you.


If you would like advice on making or updating will, please do contact me and I'll be happy to help.

Addendum:

Since writing this blog post, recent research has shown that 1 in 4 people have written their will without any input from a legal professional.  The research indicates that these wills may end up creating more of a legal and financial mess, than originally intended.  You can read the article here.

 


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