The front page of a recent Sunday Mail was offering a ‘Free DIY Will Kit’ which it said would give ‘peace of mind for you and your family’. I’m generally a fairly relaxed guy, but this statement is what gets my back up about DIY Wills.
It’s not even about the money, because rectifying a DIY Will is actually often far more profitable to us as lawyers, than to have a client do one properly with us in the first place; especially when they may need a Court order to change it, or when the changes are then contested by someone else. It’s the offering of ‘peace of mind‘(when that’s the last thing a DIY Will usually does), which I think is really unfair.
To give examples of why I think ‘peace of mind’ and ‘DIY Will’ do not go together, below are some mistakes that we see far too often, which are very easy to make with a DIY Will, but are often very difficult (and expensive) to rectify:
- Missing out key provisions
- Using ambiguous wording
- Making amendments by crossing through the document
- Having the wrong person witness the Will
- Having the wrong person sign the Will
More often than not, these types of mistakes only come to light after the death of the person who has made the Will, at the point where the executors then have to sit with a solicitor to discuss how to put it right. This to me, is not peace of mind for anyone and it’s certainly not what you would want to have to do after losing someone close to you.
Another issue is that DIY Wills tend to be very basic and may not take into account all of your wishes. For example, there may be further clauses to include that are not apparent at first glance, which you would ideally need to discuss with a solicitor. These could be the inclusion of trusts or substitute provisions in the event of the death of an executor or beneficiary listed in the Will.
The fine print instructions of a DIY Will may state that you should get legal advice if you are in doubt about anything, but, with the blank document in front of you – that you’ve already paid for – it’s all too easy to think it would be too much hassle to go to see one and that you will make do with what you’ve got. This can have disastrous consequences and in my experience often causes far more headaches, worry and stress than it does peace.
So, if you are considering reviewing your existing Will or making a new Will, my honest advice would be to speak to an expert. Yes, it is a big part of what I do for a living so I’m bound to say that, but you wouldn’t attempt to pull out your own wisdom tooth after reading a DIY book, so why should it be any different with a Will? Spending a little bit of time and money on your Will and keeping it up to date will not only save you (and often your family) time and money in the long run, but will ensure that your Will is as effective as possible in achieving all of your wishes.
Speak to a solicitor who specialises in Wills and Probate
For more information about Wills, please feel free to give me a call. I promise not to have a rant about DIY Wills and will happily answer any questions that you may have whilst talking you through what the best options for you, as an individual, are.
You can call me at our Market Harborough office on 01858 467 181 or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org