With the current climate of social distancing and avoiding mixing with people outside of your household as much as possible it might be tempting to consider writing your own will. After all, you may feel this is safer as you avoid the need to travel out to visit a will writer or have them meet you in your home. DIY wills are not without their dangers though, and this article will set out why they ought to be avoided.
What can go wrong with a DIY will?
1. Your estate planning might not be as simple as you think
A professional could advise you to make sure you have an efficient estate plan in place. This could mean using more complex planning that you may not have been aware of such as trusts and making sure you’re aware of the IHT allowances available to you and how to make the best use of them. You may save money initially by writing your own will instead of paying a professional, but in the end it could cost your estate much more in taxes that could have been mitigated.
2. You might not be doing enough to protect your estate from claims
If you are planning on excluding someone who might expect to benefit from your estate you may not realise that the law allows certain people to apply to the court after your death for some provision from your estate if your will failed to make ‘reasonable’ provision for them. Professional advice will benefit you here.
3. The will might not be valid
For a will to be legally valid it has to meet certain requirements set out by law, specifically section 9 of the Wills Act 1837. If a will isn’t signed and witnessed correctly then it won’t be valid and it will have no legal effect.
4. The will might be valid but certain gifts might fail
Your DIY will might be validly signed and witnessed but there is still a danger that your wishes won’t take effect or parts of your will might fail. The main issues you could face are:
- • If one of your beneficiaries or their spouse or civil partner acts as a witness to the will then any gift to them will be void.
- • The wording used in the will is ambiguous or uncertain.
- • The will attempts to gift your ‘share’ in a property that you own with someone else, but the property is owned as joint tenants so the gift in the will fails.
- • The residuary estate is not properly dealt with so some of your estate passes on intestacy – this is where assets pass to certain relatives in a hierarchy, so not necessarily to the people you wanted to benefit Remember, if something in your will is uncertain you won’t be around to provide any clarity to resolve any issues. That’s why it is so important to make sure the wording in the will is clear, certain, and the correct legal terminology is used where appropriate.
5. You didn’t appoint someone to deal with your estate after death, or to care for your minor children
A will should appoint executors to deal with your estate after you pass away. They will be responsible for dealing with your assets, your debts, declaring and paying any relevant taxes, and ultimately making sure your estate passes on to the people you want it to. It is important you appoint someone you trust to take on this role, otherwise someone will be appointed after your death and that person may not be the most suitable executor.
If you have minor children you have probably given some thought to who you would want to care for them if anything happened to you. It is a common misconception that minor children will automatically pass into the care of their godparents or your next closest relatives, but this isn’t the case. To make sure that people you know and trust take on the care of your children you would need to appoint them as a guardian, and this can be done by will. This is something that is often overlooked in DIY wills, simply because the person making it wasn’t aware it was something they needed to do in their will!
How do I have a professional will drafted safely during a pandemic?
Don’t worry, there’s no need to put yourself at any unnecessary risk and you can still safely socially distance while having a will professionally drafted.
At Lifeline Wills, we are offering to take your instructions remotely so there is no need for you to visit our office or for us to visit you in your home. You can give your instructions from the safety and comfort of your own home without any worry.
Get in touch Today and We will be happy to assist you…