When it comes to creating your will, there is a strong temptation to ‘get it over with’ as quickly as possible. This feeling is, of course, perfectly justified – none of us want to dwell on the events that will follow our deaths. But it has given rise to a number of companies offering ‘templates’ for those seeking a quick Do-It-Yourself approach to writing a Will.
There are, unfortunately, a number of pitfalls that are becoming increasingly common when this approach is used. Read more about the dangers of the DIY Will below.
You Risk Misinterpreting the Legalities
When a document is legally binding, those involved must exercise a greater degree of caution over their phrasing, as legal terms all have their own implications, and may result in a different meaning to the one you intended.
A qualified legal expert with plenty of experience in will writing and the law will listen to your wishes and advise you on any legal terms or jargon as they liaise with you to draw up your Will.
Errors are More Common Than You Might Expect
Not only can errors leave a Will vulnerable to misinterpretation, but they may invalidate a Will altogether. If you die without leaving a valid Will, your assets will be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules.
There are, for instance, strict rules regarding the signing and witnessing of Wills; if they are not closely adhered to, a Will may not be valid.
Complexities Might Cause You to Miss Out Important Details
While, for some, drafting a will is not seen as a complicated task, some assets – particularly those subject to UK inheritance tax or foreign assets – bring their own legal implications and concerns that must be specifically addressed within a legally binding Will which is best drawn up by legal experts.
Your Own Mistakes Won’t Have Any Legal Recourse
If you take sole responsibility for preparing your own Will, then any mistakes you might make – or mistakes made on a DIY template – may leave your loved ones without many options.
Qualified solicitors, on the other hand, are protected by professional indemnity insurance. This means that, should your solicitor make a mistake – and should this mistake lead to a loss for your beneficiaries – then your beneficiaries may have a claim for professional negligence.
Ambiguities Can Cause Lasting Disputes
Of course, the primary purpose of your Will is to ensure that, after your passing, your family and loved ones are able to inherit assets in accordance with your wishes. This is particularly important if, say, you have a long-term partner to whom you are not married, or step-children whom you did not legally adopt.
Issues with a DIY Will could lead to disputes among your beneficiaries and loved ones after your death, causing unnecessary stress and potentially lasting damage to once-stable relationships. It is easy to believe that your family will be capable of reaching a fair decision on their own, but it is so often the case that loved ones have no choice but to undertake the process of contesting a will, which can be lengthy and difficult for all involved.