The idea of writing your own Will, on first glance, looks like a good one. The idea of saving money, educating yourself a little and having a document which informs your executors about how you would like to have your estate distributed sounds great, right?
You would certainly think so but here at the Society of Will Writers we see the after effects. We see and speak to the family members of the testator who perhaps didn’t receive what they expected and see the experiences of these documents failing for seemingly simple errors.
These problems often arise because well-meaning individuals begin writing their Will following the instructions from a ‘do it yourself’ kit. These kits whilst practical for simple estates are often not suitable for more complex estates. Take this into consideration with the Average Joe who believes their estate is simple when on the surface they think it is, but it could be a real recipe for disaster. A simple estate could be defined as a married couple who leave everything to each other and then to their children on second death.
When should you consider seeking professional advice?
- If your estate is worth more than £325,000 or has been over recent years.
- If you have remarried or have children with previous partners.
- If you own a business or have an interest in a business.
- If you have assets in other countries.
- If you would like to exclude someone from benefiting from your estate.
- If you would like to split a property or provide a life interest in income or property for someone.
What do you need to consider when writing your Will?
The list here is exhaustive but we’ve noted some of the key points:
- The document should contain a revocation clause to revoke any previous Wills effectively making the document your last Will and Testament.
- The document must be signed and witnessed properly in accordance with S.9 Wills Act 1837.
- It’s not acceptable to write on the Will or make amendments unless they are witnessed and signed correctly.
- The person making the Will should have the mental capacity to write it. If it is being written for a family member or friend then checks should be made to confirm capacity.
What could go wrong when using a DIY Will kit?
- The Will could fail to appoint executors leaving no one to administer the estate
- The Will could be invalid if it is not property signed and witnessed and the estate will pass under the intestacy rules
- The Will could fail to deal with all of the estate (partial intestacy)
- It may fail to make provision for what will happen if a beneficiary dies before the testator
The writers of this article, the Society of Will Writers are a trade organisation for Will Writers. We ensure that members of the SWW are safe to do business with by checking that they are sufficiently insured, regularly trained and we ask for adherence to the SWW Code of Practice.