Risks of a DIY Will

by Kidd Rapinet on November 15, 2020

Covid 19 has led to many people rushing into creating a DIY Will without seeking any professional advice.

DIY Wills are not ideal unless you have a very simple financial situation but even then, your life can change – children, marriage, separation, inheritance etc can all affect your own circumstances.

While it may seem prudent to save money by doing a DIY Will a solicitor will help you avoid any potential pitfalls.  If there is anything incorrect in your DIY Will it will undoubtedly lead to trouble for your family and friends when sorting your finances.

DIY Will templates are just that – a template – no-one will take responsibility if something is incorrect.  If you make mistakes there will be no come back and if you get it badly wrong your Will could even be deemed invalid.

We have heard of and seen DIY Wills that have not been made for the provisions intended and errors have not been corrected.  In some cases DIY Wills have been so poorly drafted that they have led to expensive tax consequences and litigation.  Our advice is ‘don’t leave something so important to chance’ – the old saying “if you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur’ couldn’t be more true.

Don’t do a DIY will if you…

  • Own a business
  • You are trying to reduce inheritance tax
  • You have overseas properties or investments
  • You have people financially dependent on you (other than your immediate family).

In any of these circumstances you should seek professional advice – please remember that Solicitors are regulated.

What to consider when making a Will

Executors – Who will be your executor/s?  Do you know why you need an executor? If you don’t choose one do you know who will control your estate and ensure the distribution of your assets to your beneficiaries?

Do you need a trustee?  Do you need one or more – do you need different types of trustees?

Guardians – do you know who will raise your children if you do not specify someone?  Who has priority if you appoint more than one guardian?

Gifts and legacies – do you know who will benefit?  What happens if a beneficiary in your Will dies before you – what will happen to your gift?  Have you made any provisions should this happen?

Inheritance for a minor – Do you know enough about the law to gift to a minor and how this can be protected until they come of age?

Pets – if you own pets have you made provisions for them?  If so, how?

Charity – if you want to leave some of your inheritance to charity have you specified how this is to be used?  Why is the name and registered charity no’ important?

How do you know if your DIY Will is valid?

This is a very good question – how do you know if it is valid if you haven’t used a professional?

  • Has it been witnessed correctly?
  • Are amendments or additional clauses made to it valid?
  • Is your Will registered?
  • Have you got married since you made your Will?
  • Have you got divorced since you made your Will? Is your ex still due to inherit from you?
  • If you’ve made a new Will has it properly revoked any previous Wills?
  • Have you deliberately left people from your Will? Have you covered off possible attempts to challenge it by individuals?

Making a Will is the first step to protecting your assets and ensuring your wishes are expressed when you pass.  It is one of the most essential documents you will make in your lifetime and it should be reviewed every 2-3 years to ensure it is still valid and updated to reflect your current situation.

If you have a DIY Will don’t leave it to chance – please get it checked by a professional.  For more information on writing a Will, please download our FREE 8 step guide to making a Will or make a no-obligation appointment with one of our solicitors.