The unforeseen dangers of DIY wills

If there is one thing that, at first glance, looks more appealing than setting aside a significant chunk of time to sit and talk through your own death, it’s the ability to spend a fraction of that time quickly noting down a few plans and wishes, sealing them up, and forgetting about the whole sore subject for the rest of your life. 

And, while there is usually something to be said for taking the path of least resistance, creating a sound will is certainly not something you want to rush, half-bake, or treat as a low priority concern. 

Why? For the simple fact that, for most people, you will one day leave behind loved ones who are dependent on their inheritance – or, at the very least, on your finances and other assets being organised, and their future clearly stipulated by you. 

A good will is going to make things easier for your loved ones, but it also avoids putting their future at risk unnecessarily. Here’s why. 

Even basic errors can make it invalid

There are many reasons why a will can be found invalid, ranging from seemingly unimportant oversights regarding witnessing and signing, to failing to appoint an executor or drafting errors that make your wishes unclear. 

What’s more, if you aren’t a lawyer yourself, you may not be aware of the correct terminology. Misusing one word could undermine the entire document, and, without a lawyer, there’s no way of verifying whether or not the wording you have used means what you think it means. 

This can easily leave families devastated, as invalid wills lead to the testator’s assets being subject to the law of intestacy, which can prevent certain people – even long-term partners – from inheriting anything at all. 

You may not know how or when to amend the will 

Most of us know that the sooner we can make a will, the better, but making a will relatively early on in life also means that it will need to undergo some revisions as our circumstances change. 

Updating a will isn’t as simple as scrawling an extra bequest in the margins, or scribbling over another. Once again, remember that legal documents still use old-fashioned language, and yet the implication of an incorrect word can affect the intentions of your will. What’s more, some matters, like disinheritance are very complicated – something you can read more about here

Even strong relationships could be put under strain

Many DIY wills end up being the subject of disagreements. Family members may be split over their own interpretations of the will and, unfortunately, the only way to settle these sorts of disputes is with professional legal advice. 

Your loved ones will need to reach out to will dispute solicitors and attempt to prove that the will was invalid – something that is generally easily done when the will was made at home, without professional help. 

Ultimately, the peace of mind you you stand to gain from knowing your will has been properly drafted by an experienced solicitor, and that no simple mistakes have been made, will save you stress and worry in the future. It will also save your family from potential disputes and expensive legal costs over a disagreement, which is something we should all take measures to ensure. 


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