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Can a high-street DIY Will really save you money?
- AuthorKirsten Edberg
Currently more than half of UK adults don’t have a Will. When you consider the number of co-habiting couples (who don’t receive the same rights upon death as married couples under the intestacy rules) and extended families it is a surprising statistic. Failure to make a Will can leave loved ones suffering financial hardship and lead to a disputed estate.
Do-it-yourself wills are now widely available online and in shopping centres across the UK at a low cost. Promising easy to follow instructions and completed examples, they boast sales of over 1 million and can be used in England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
While DIY Wills may be convenient and low cost, they can be a false economy. If there are any factors that complicate the estate, such as children from another relationship, business interests to be disposed of in the Will or a potential tax liability then it is important to give careful thought to the drafting of the Will.
The validity of a will can be disputed in court after death, for example on the basis that the person making the Will lacked capacity at the time it was made. When visiting a solicitor to make a Will, they will take detailed instructions from you and record their assessment of your capacity in writing (to be produced in the event of a future challenge).
It’s also common for DIY wills, or a specific gift in the Will, to fail because they do not meet the requirements for a valid Will. For instance, it may be easily overlooked that a beneficiary cannot also act as a witness to a Will and neither can their spouse. If a beneficiary (or their spouse) does witness a will then although the Will remains valid, any gift to that beneficiary fails. This can of course create a very unfair situation and not at all what was intended.
Kirsten Edberg, Private Client solicitor at Warner Goodman LLP says; “a DIY will can certainly look appealing as a low cost option. Unfortunately, they can also result in family disputes where the Will is later contested or found to be invalid for any reason. To safeguard against family fall-outs and to ensure you wishes are met, a professionally written will gives peace of mind to you and your family.”
This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice. All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.