DIY Wills: Should You Avoid Them?

Do-it-yourself or DIY Wills have become more popular in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. Many companies offer cheap or even free Will kits and there are plenty of options for making a Will online, without the help of a solicitor.

But there are risks that come with using a DIY Will kit or template. The benefit of using a professional’s help is that you can minimise the chance of any problems after your death, ensuring your family is taken care of when you’re gone.

Are DIY Wills legal?

In England and Wales, there is no legal requirement to use a solicitor when writing a Will. So you’re free to draft up your own document at home, as long as it meets the requirements of the 1837 Wills Act.

Under this act, your Will must be: “Signed by the testator (the person who is making the Will) with the intention of giving effect to their Will in the presence of two witnesses, who each sign the Will in the presence of the testator.”

This essentially means that in order for your Will to be legally binding, it must be signed with two witnesses present. Both of these witnesses must be over 18 with mental capacity and they will need to sign the document, too.

If this doesn’t happen, your Will could be deemed invalid in the eyes of the law – which could leave your Will open to challenges after your death. In the worst cases, this can result in family disputes and costly legal battles at what will already be a stressful time for your loved ones.

What are the dangers of a DIY Will?

DIY Wills are usually quick, convenient and inexpensive. But if mistakes are made, it could end up costing your loved ones more in the long term.

We’ve already touched on the problems that can arise when a Will isn’t properly witnessed. But this is just one area where people are tripped up when it comes to DIY Wills. Some other common mistakes include:

  • Incorrect or missed details
    It won’t surprise you to hear that Wills are extremely detailed documents. And it can be easy to overlook certain assets – such as savings accounts or pensions – meaning your loved ones could potentially miss out on parts of your estate.

There may also be other points you hadn’t considered, such as appointing a substitute executor. While this might sound like a small matter, it could create confusion for your loved ones if the executor named in your Will is unavailable and no one else has been selected.

This is where an experienced solicitor could help you, as they will pick up on any missed or incorrect details before the Will is finalised – giving you additional peace of mind.

  • Tax implications overlooked
    Inheritance tax is one of the unavoidable facts of life. But there are ways you can reduce the amount of inheritance tax you pay through your Will. This will help to ensure that your loved ones benefit as much as possible from your estate.

Inheritance tax is not often mentioned in DIY Will kits or templates. But an experienced solicitor can offer advice and guidance on the best way to distribute your assets – minimising your loved ones’ tax burden.

  • Vague instructions
    It can cause a significant amount of confusion for family members when the terms of a Will are not clear. This will usually become a problem when two or more beneficiaries disagree on how the terms of your Will should be interpreted.

When you use the services of a solicitor, they will make sure that your wishes are clearly laid out in a way that leaves little room for confusion. So you’ll have the reassurance of knowing your estate will be distributed as you’d like.

How could a solicitor help me?

Whether you’re thinking about writing a Will or you need to update an existing one, our solicitors are here to help. They’ll speak to you about your estate and help you draft a legally binding Will, so you’ll have the confidence of knowing your loved ones will be looked after when you’re gone.

To find out how we could help you find the right legal support, give us a call on the number at the top of the screen or start your enquiry online.

Note: First4Lawyers offers this information as guidance, not advice. Before taking any action, you should seek professional assistance tailored to your personal circumstances.


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