You can write your own Will but Cheshire private client and Will solicitors say that the better question to ask is ‘’should you write your own Will?’’ . That is because going it alone, without expert Will advice, can have serious unintended consequences for your friends and family. In this blog we look at some of the common problems encountered with do-it-yourself Wills.
Do I need a Will?
We all need a Will, whatever our personal or financial circumstances, although it is fair to say that some people need one more than others. For example:
- If you have a complicated family set up with children from different relationships or step-children
- You are getting married
- You are in a cohabiting or non-married relationship
- You are going through a separation or divorce
- You own a business
- Your estate will be subject to inheritance tax unless you carry out estate planning
- You have financial dependants, such as young children or a former husband or wife that you continue to pay spousal maintenance to
- You want to make specific bequests or the intestacy provisions (if you die without a Will) would create a result that would not be what you wanted to do with your estate
- You want to leave money to charitable causes.
Having acknowledged that they need a Will some people are then tempted to write one themselves. Their philosophy appears to be ‘’how hard can it be to put down on paper what will happen to your money when you die?’’ The answer is that it can be surprisingly easy for someone to prepare a Will that either isn’t legally valid or doesn’t actually say what they meant to say.
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Common problems with ‘’do-it-yourself Wills’’ include:
- A Will is witnessed by one person. Two people need to witness the Will being signed. If they don’t do so then the Will isn’t valid
- One or both of the witnesses to the signing of the Will didn’t actually see the Will maker sign his or her Will. If the Will is challenged then the failure to properly execute the Will could make it invalid
- The Will is witnessed by two people but one of the witnesses (or their husband, wife or civil partner) is left a share of the estate or a legacy in the Will. Whilst the Will is legally valid but the gift to the beneficiary (or their spouse or civil partner) is void
- The Will leaves the family home or business to a beneficiary but at the date of death the family home or business has already been sold. The beneficiary isn’t entitled under the terms of the Will to the sale proceeds of the family home or business. The beneficiary may therefore end up with nothing whilst the person writing the Will thought there were leaving their most valuable assets to a named beneficiary
- After making various specific gifts to beneficiaries the Will doesn’t say what will happen to the balance of the estate, referred to as the residue. That could result in a partial intestacy with some of the estate passing to unintended beneficiaries under intestacy rules
- The Will does not say who will receive a gift or the residue estate if the named beneficiary dies before the person writing the Will. The gift won’t go to the nearest relative of the intended beneficiary but will fail. This will increase the size of the residuary estate. If the person who is gifted the residue of the estate passes away before the Will maker and there is no substitute beneficiary named in the Will then the residue of the estate will pass in accordance with the intestacy rules
- The Will maker does not carry out any inheritance tax planning as part of their Will preparation. This could mean the difference between the estate paying no inheritance tax or thousands of pounds in inheritance tax
- The Will writer assumes that their jointly owned family home or their pension fund will pass by their Will but that isn’t necessarily correct because, for example, the home is owned as joint tenants and the joint tenancy was never severed or the pension scheme rules says that the pension fund passes by nomination rather than through the provisions in a Will.
These are just a few of the things that can go wrong when you chose to write your own Will. Sadly, it is often not until it is too late and someone has passed away, that friends and family find out about the unintended consequences of a badly prepared do-it- yourself Will.
It is therefore best to take advice from our Cheshire Will solicitors when contemplating drawing up your own Will. If you are concerned about the cost of a Will then a solicitor can talk you through the cost. At Evolve Family Law we publish a price guide for the services we provide that includes the cost involved in preparing a Will for you. Many realise that getting an expert to write a Will not only isn’t that expensive but gives the security of knowing that your loved ones are properly protected.
Why use Evolve Family Law to write your Will?
We think the question ‘’why use Evolve Family Law to write your Will?’’ is best answered by quoting the words of two recent clients of Will solicitor, Chris Strogen. The clients said:
‘’Thank you so much for a great service, absolutely first class’’.
‘’Very helpful and friendly, effective and efficient. Definitely recommend’’.
Online Cheshire Will and Estate Planning Solicitors
To make a Will or estate planning call the Will and estate planning solicitors at Evolve Family Law or complete our online enquiry form and we will arrange a face to face meeting, telephone appointment , video conferencing or Skype call to discuss how we can help you.