There are a lot of businesses on the Internet advertising DIY wills however just how effective are they and will they meet your requirements? It has to be born in mind that most people will leave substantial assets mainly in the form of a home and that the average house price in the United Kingdom now amounts to several hundred thousand pounds. You have to ask yourself whether or not, in the event of your death, you are prepared to trust your assets and the future of your family and loved ones to a cheap pack of mass produced documents when you can use an insured and qualified lawyer to draft your will at a budget price thereby avoiding potential contested probate litigation.
DIY wills may be fine but then again they may not. There are plenty of traps for the unwary and lawyers make a lot of money from contested probate legal action whilst they are sorting out badly drawn wills. If you feel confident in doing it yourself then that’s fine but bear in mind that there are many pitfalls which can result in contested probate including :-
Failure to properly sign and execute the document is one of the most fertile areas for disputed DIY wills and contested probate. It’s a legal requirement for it to be done exactly right or the document will be totally invalid. There’s no half measure here and it’s either legally carried out or its not. Failure for lack of correct execution can mean that the State steps in to claim everything.
One common failing of DIY wills is that the testator fails to distribute all of the assets and any unallocated assets may not go to the person intended or in certain circumstances be claimed by the State
DIY wills are rarely complicated documents however there are times when it is necessary to go into detail particularly in regard to making provision in the event of a beneficiary dying prior to the testator. This not only ensures that the assets are distributed according to the wishes of the testator but also avoids the possibility of the State making a claim and obviates the need to draft and execute a further document to take account of changed circumstances.
Potential changes in family relationships must be considered as births, deaths, marriages and civil partnership can impinge on the testator’s intentions. Divorce has far reaching effects and wills drafted prior to divorce by a divorcee become invalid after divorce. It may be sensible to take qualified legal advice in these circumstances to avoid contested probate litigation..
If a beneficiary is involved in the preparation of a will then the gift to that person may fail dependent on the degree of involvement and any undue influence. Beneficiaries should ensure that they stay at arms length from any dealings involving preparation and execution. A gift to a beneficiary who witnesses a will is void.
Dependents have a right to instigate contested probate litigation if there is inadequate provision made for them. This often means that a dependent can have a prior claim on all the assets of the estate and the prospective testator should take account of this from the outset.
When most solicitors are making a will they use modern will precedents that have been written in plain English. You will not be bamboozled by legal jargon either on the telephone or in the documents supplied. Most solicitors charges are very reasonable and depend on the amount of work necessary to carry out your instructions. Almost all solicitors are able to provide you with a quotation over the telephone and offer discounts for family wills or mirror wills for spouses.