Can you make your own Will without a lawyer?
Yes, you can legally create your own Will without a lawyer. We are often asked what the value is in having a Will professionally prepared when you can purchase a pro forma Will at a newsagent or put your wishes in writing yourself.
To us, this is no different to asking something like ‘if you have no (or limited) knowledge of plumbing can you plumb your own house?’ Or ‘if you have no training in accountancy, can you prepare your own business or personal accounts and tax return?’ The answer to all of these is of course yes, but input from an expert may prevent lengthy and costly problems in the future.
If your DIY plumbing goes wrong, you can always get a plumber in later and correct it. If you overpay tax you can apply for a rebate. Unfortunately, if there are problems with your Will it is likely this will not be apparent until after you die, so you are not around to ensure your wishes are followed.
What may go wrong with a DIY Will?
It may not be valid
One of the biggest dangers of a DIY Will is that if it is not correctly executed and witnessed it may be invalid, and your estate will pass under intestacy meaning you no longer have control as to where your assets go. You can find out what happens if you don’t have a valid Will in our guide.
You may miss assets
If your Will does not adequately deal with all the assets that you own at the date of your death there is a risk of part or all of your estate passing under intestacy rather than under your intended terms of your Will.
It may not provide fully for your wishes
If one of more of the intended beneficiaries have died, part or all of your estate may pass under intestacy, rather than as you intend.
If your named executor has either died before you or is unable to take up the role someone other than who you would like may administer your estate.
You may leave a valuable asset to a beneficiary, but when you die if you no longer own that asset that beneficiary may not inherit anything under your Will, which is not what you intended.
You may fail to provide adequately for some you love.
It may be easier to contest
You may ask friends or relatives to assist in preparing and writing the Will. This could make it more open to challenge, particularly if the helpers or their close relatives also benefit under the Will
You may want to omit someone from your Will, who expects to inherit, and this could lay your Will open to challenge.
If you have any health issues causing physical or mental health frailty your Will may be more open to challenge. It can be daunting to think about a time when you might lose capacity, or when you won’t be able to make decisions for yourself. If you make a Lasting Power of Attorney alongside your Will, you can choose who you want to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you no longer have capacity to do so yourself. It is a very powerful, legal document, so you need to think very carefully about who you appoint. You can find out more in our blog ‘Why should you make a Lasting Power of Attorney?’
You may have tax implications
Your estate may be subject to Inheritance Tax, but with a little planning in your lifetime, part of which may involve drafting your Will differently, the tax may be reduced.
How can our Wills & Probate lawyers help?
While there is no denying that DIY Wills may seem a cost-effective option in the short-term, the above dangers are just examples and the list is far from exhaustive. Mistakes or oversights in the drafting or execution of the Will may lead to unintended consequences and you may leave your loved ones having to try to resolve these matters after you die through costly legal proceedings.
Contact Hanne & Co’s Private Client team for expert and bespoke advice and preparation of a Will for you that is specific to your personal circumstances, whilst considering all the above issues and more. Let our expertise give you peace of mind in knowing you have best provided for your loved ones.
You can find out more about how a Wills & Probate solicitor can help you make a Will in our previous article.
Contact us today on +44 (0) 207 228 0017 or via the form below.