Do you have a DIY will?

 

Every year, 1 in 3 people dies without having a legally valid will. In that year, around 38,000 families have to deal with the additional costs of litigation because of a poorly drafted DIY will.

While it cannot be denied that making a DIY will is the cheaper alternative, with some ‘write your own will’ packs ranging from around £15-£20, there are significant risks for those that decide to do so. The biggest risk is that the will may not comply with the formalities under the Wills Act 1837. This has been recently demonstrated by the case of Payne v Payne, where Mr Payne made a will leaving everything to his spouse and second wife, Mrs Payne. Mr Payne’s witnesses had not signed the will, merely writing their names, contrary to what is required under the Wills Act 1837. What ensued was a six-year legal battle to determine the validity of the will. The fees and emotional distress to his widow could have been avoided had Mr Payne decided to take legal advice when drafting his will.

A further risk with DIY wills is that they may not be suitable for a person’s circumstances. If a person is co-habiting, has young children, has children from a previous marriage or is getting married or divorced, then a professional solicitor will be able to draft a will suitable to their circumstances, as well as discuss any inheritance tax implications.

In a recent study, it was discovered that there are around 1.5 million people in the UK that have unknowingly made their will void by getting married. If they subsequently died without creating a new will, then their estate will be distributed in line with the rules of intestacy, which may not be the testator’s desired result. 

While writing a will may seem straightforward enough to some, the law surrounding wills is complex and care should be taken to avoid an instance where the will is contested on death. Not only does this provide the testator with peace of mind that their estate will be distributed in line with their wishes but ensures that there are no additional costs and stress to their family after they have died. If you are concerned that your will is not valid, or would like to make a new will, please contact me on 01206 217363 or alternatively you can email me at katey.stephenson@birkettlong.co.uk

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.