It is always a good idea to put a Will in place, whatever stage of life you are at.
However, there are risks if a Will is not correctly drafted and many legal cases have stemmed from someone making a DIY Will. Today at S Bish Estate Planning we take a look at the potential problems.
Strict rules apply to Wills and if, for example, a Will is not properly signed and witnessed, it will be invalid. If your Will is not valid, then an earlier valid Will takes effect instead. If you do not have an earlier valid Will, your estate will be intestate and will pass to close relatives in strict order of priority, which might not be what you wanted.
Dangers of making your own Will include:
If a Will is ambiguous or poorly drafted, beneficiaries may be more inclined to challenge it. A well-drafted Will, clearly setting out what your wishes are, will reduce the risk of disagreements or misunderstandings arising. Legal action can be very expensive and could drain your estate of funds. It could also cause irreparable damage to family relationships.
Disputes often occur because those left behind disagree over what the deceased’s wishes were. Taking professional advice means that you can discuss exactly what you want with your solicitor and ensure that your Will accurately reflects this.
If your loved ones know that an expert professional worked with you to set out how your estate is to be passed on, they will have more confidence in your Will.
Your Wills and estate planning professional will also be able to give you advice about potential difficulties. For example, if you were intending to cut someone out of your Will whom you currently support, they will be able to discuss with you the implications of doing this.
They would also be able to give evidence as to your testamentary capacity or soundness of mind, should this ever be questioned, as well as confirming that you understood the contents of your Will.
Your estate might not pass to those you want to receive it
If you make your own Will, there is a risk that your assets might not be passed on to your choice of beneficiary. For example, if you leave your half of your shared home to your spouse or partner and they have said that in turn they will leave this to your children in their Will, you have no guarantees that this will happen.
They could remarry or simply change their mind and decide to leave your share to someone else. There is also a risk that they could lose the money in a poor investment or to fraud.
There is a way to avoid this happening. You can use your Will to leave your spouse a life interest in your assets. This means that they can live in the property for as long as they wish. When they no longer need it, your share will pass to your choice of beneficiary. Your spouse or partner will not be able to leave it in their Will, as it was only theirs to use during their lifetime.
It is always advisable to have a professional draft a Will with this type of provision as the clauses need to be clearly and correctly worded for the trust to take effect.
Will is not correctly executed
If your Will is not correctly signed and witnessed, it will not be valid. Other issues could also arise, for example, if a beneficiary or their relative were to witness a Will, the gift to them would be void.
Handwritten changes to a Will can also invalidate it. If you want to make changes to your Will, you should have a new Will drafted.
If you would like to speak to one of our expert Estate Planning specialists, call on: 01727 220930 or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org