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The Perils of DIY Wills

You may have seen offers to purchase DIY Wills in stationery stores or online and you may have been tempted to prepare one yourself, rather than going to see a solicitor.

Many people will have been tempted to prepare these types of document themselves during Covid, not wishing to go and see a solicitor face to face. This brings with it the concern that there may also be a rise in the number of inheritance disputes in the future, due to the increased likelihood that unintended mistakes will be made when people have drafted the Wills themselves.

A Solicitor will ensure that your Will achieves what a would like it to. They will also be able to provide you with advice on the inheritance tax exposure of your estate that you would not receive if you prepared a DIY Will. Other instances in which solicitors can provide valuable advice (just to provide a few examples) are if you are disinheriting a child, if you are leaving money to a beneficiary with mental health problems or someone who is in receipt of means tested benefits, if you own a business or have assets abroad.

One case in which a homemade Will should never be attempted would be if the person making the Will has any form of health problem affecting their memory or cognitive functioning. One ground upon which your Will  can be challenged after your death is if someone were to claim that you did not have mental capacity when you made it. It would be harder for them to prove this were the case if you had been to see a solicitor to prepare your Will and the solicitor had documented that when you signed it they believed you were fully cognisant.

There are many possible pitfalls in preparing a Will yourself. There are strict rules on how a Will should be signed and how any amendments should be made, which is a common stumbling block for homemade Wills.

Ultimately when you sign your Will you are signing one of the most important documents you will ever sign in your life and the consequences of getting it wrong are potentially disastrous for those you leave behind. When you are considering the cost of obtaining legal advice to get it right, please bear in mind the cost of not seeking legal advice and getting it wrong. If you did prepare a Will yourself over the last few years you may wish to take the opportunity to go and see a solicitor now to ensure that your wishes take legal effect on your death and the risk of family disputes after you have died are minimised.

Kate Howard is a Solicitor at Glanvilles Damant able to discuss which options suit you. Please contact her on or 01983 527878 for a free initial consultation.

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