Posted On / 10.01.2022

Why DIY Wills could cost you and your loved ones dear!

The pandemic has caused many people to revaluate their estate planning and review or write Wills for the first time. So, what are the pitfalls of DIY Wills? Associate Solicitor, Deborah Escott- Watson reports.

Nowadays there are many ways to obtain a Will – online templates available on the Internet, a will writing service provider or through a solicitor. Cost is certainly a consideration which should be taken into account when deciding on completing a Will. It is important that the cost of the exercise reflect the complexity of your affairs.  However, the adage “you get what you pay for” is true for a reason.

On the face of it, a Will can appear to be a simple document. If your family and financial affairs are straight forward writing the Will yourself or using an online service may prove to be sufficient. However, there are risks which could be very costly, both financially and emotionally if the correct advice is not taken.

Research conducted by Boodle Hatfield reported that the number of people challenging wills in court hit a fresh high – up 50% from 2018. However, most will disputes do not end up in court, but they can still cost a great deal of money to resolve and delay the conclusion of the administration for many years until the dispute is eventually settled.

Wills are challenged for a variety of reasons. These include challenging the capacity of the testator by claiming that the testator did not understand the effect of the Will that they had signed.

Wills can also be challenged on the grounds of undue influence on the testator by a person who will benefit directly or indirectly causing a Will to be executed that does not reflect the testator’s true wishes.  Incorrect execution causing invalidity of the Will, incorrect drafting of bequests leading to their failure, or a partial or full intestacy can also lead to disputes.

There may also be claims against the estate in terms of Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants Act)1975 which were not considered or there may be unexpected inheritance tax that needs to be paid causing unexpected financial loss to beneficiaries. Second marriages and children from previous relationships sometimes can make affairs more complex.

Clients should bear in mind that a solicitor’s firm is required to have professional indemnity insurance which protects clients from loss from incorrectly drafted Wills.

A Will speaks for you when you are no longer able to speak for yourself. Accordingly, it needs to be executed properly so it can be validly used and well drafted so that your wishes are clear and can be carried out properly. Instructing a solicitor to help you with this can reduce risk and prevent a myriad of problems at the time when your loved ones do not need any further distress.

For more information, please contact Deborah Escott-Watson 01935 811314 or email deborah.escott-watson@battens.co.uk