Will, Trust and Probate

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The Dangers of DIY Wills; #2 - Invalid changes or amendments

View profile for Emma Stride TEP
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Short term savings, long term pain

Historically, many people have put off writing a will for fear of the costs involved but more recently the cheaper alternative option of the DIY will has emerged as a growing trend.

These wills are readily available via the Internet or high street retailers such as WHSmith for as little as £7 and claim to provide you with a quick and effortless legally binding will. Seems tempting, right?

What they don’t tell you is the potential risk involved and that drafting your own will might come at a hefty price in the long run – simple, minor errors can easily be made but have devastating consequences.

Relatives can turn against each other and wills can be contested, with the costly legal action involved to unravel the problems significantly reducing the money in the estate.

Such is the case that a 60% surge in inheritance disputes heard within the High Court has been attributed in part to the increased popularity of DIY wills. It’s a sobering thought.

Simple mistakes discovered too late

Knowing how you want your savings and assets to be distributed in a particular way between particular people after your death is the easy bit. Making those wishes legal and ensuring they’ll be followed in the event of your death is the trickier part.

The Guardian reported on a case in which 72-year old Eileen McCormack spent over 2 years dealing with her cousin’s estate after discovering the document he carried around in his pocket for several years was invalid – sadly, it was only after his death that the errors were discovered.

Hand-written amendments had been made in different-coloured inks and the will wasn’t correctly witnessed at the time it was drafted, nor when any of the changes had been made.

The extent of the problem was only discovered when Eileen appointed solicitors to manage the probate work – shockingly, the absence of a valid will resulted in 16% of her cousin’s estate being used to pay for the legal fees, costs that could have been avoided.


It’s not rocket science…

… but it is the law!

There are strict rules and guidelines to completing a valid will and research by Royal London has highlighted that a staggering 5.4million people in the UK who don’t already have a will, wouldn’t know where to begin if they were to write one

Using a solicitor to help you write your will not only gives you the peace of mind that your interests are protected and loved ones will be taken care of, but also gives you the confidence that your will is valid, free of errors and in safe hands.


Be safe not sorry

Drafting your will can be both simple and straightforward, and it need not cost a fortune. For absolute peace of mind, use a solicitor.

At SH&Co., Emma Stride (Head of Wills, Trust & Probate, TEP) offers two FREE weekly Wills, Trust & Probate virtual clinics during which you can get more information on wills options, pricing and/or inheritance tax. Alternatively, telephone appointments can be made by contacting the office on 01606 48777.