The Danger of Home-Made Wills

21st August 2015 2:15 pm Leave your thoughts

The internet is a great place to get information. Google any topic and within minutes you can download hundreds of ‘How to’ pages that claim to give all the answers and the knowledge needed to tackle life’s important tasks.

However, there are many instances in life where taking the DIY approach can cause problems in the future. When it comes to writing a Will that arranges for the disposal of all your assets and belongings on your death, it’s a major step and it’s far safer to rely on expert advice from a qualified, experienced solicitor.

There are strict legal formalities involved in the creation of a valid Will, and although they sound simple enough, without proper advice and guidance things can and do go wrong.   When home-made Wills are challenged, it is often on the basis that:

  • The Will wasn’t properly executed; the testator (the person making the Will) didn’t sign it or date it
  • The correct procedure wasn’t followed with regard to witnessing the testator’s signature
  • The testator was subjected to undue influence
  • The Will doesn’t cover all the deceased’s assets or take account of contingencies such as births, marriages or deaths, or cover the needs of dependants entitled to support
  • Alterations were made but not properly executed
  • There is a suspicion of fraud.

Proper legal advice will help ensure that challenges of this nature don’t arise. A specialist solicitor can help you include provision for all your family, including any children from a previous marriage. If your estate could be subject to Inheritance Tax, they can recommend ways to reduce the liability. You may want to make bequests to various charities, in which case they will ensure the details are properly and precisely documented and aren’t ambiguous or open to interpretation. Being imprecise in details often lead to home-made Wills being contested and could result in your beneficiaries suffering delays and costs.

Regular reviews are important

Wills should be considered as living documents; as legislation and personal circumstances change, so too should your Will. Major life events such as divorce or remarriage can often create a new extended family and you may want to make provision for them. If assets such as property or businesses are sold, or named beneficiaries die, then the terms of a Will will need to be updated to reflect the changed situation. A solicitor will ensure that any alterations made are done so in the correct manner.

A Will is arguably one of the most important legal documents any of us will execute. You owe it your family to make sure that you have taken proper legal advice and left a clear statement of your intentions which stands up to legal scrutiny and doesn’t engulf your family in confusion, heartache, disputes and unexpected legal fees.

To make or update your Will, or just to have a chat with one of our specialist solicitors, please contact our private client department by telephone on 01628 631051 or by email to privateclient@colemans.co.uk.


Categorised in: Latest news, Wills, Probate and Trusts

This post was written by Colemans Solicitors LLP

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