Your Will is a vital legal document. Without one, you risk your wishes not being followed through. Despite this, many people still fail to prepare a proper Will due to the popularity of DIY Will kits.
These kits promise to be simple, easy, and cheap but can lead to future complications after you pass away. Although they are attractively priced, they could be deemed invalid if mistakes are found.
DIY Will Downfalls
DIY Wills have risen in popularity in recent years, but so too have inheritance disputes which may be caused by having an invalid Will.
There are a number of things that can go wrong when creating a DIY Will:
- Mistakes in wording – Wills not prepared by experts can have mistakes in wording. Contradictory language could render some of your gifts invalid, and they will be subject to the rules of intestacy instead. These rules could mean your gifts won’t go to the people you want them to.
- Loss of money – 10% of your estate could be absorbed because of an inefficient Will. This may be due to legal fees and taxes that could have been reduced or avoided with proper estate planning.
- The wrong witnesses – your Will must be signed by two witnesses to be valid and legally binding. These witnesses can’t be your spouse or a beneficiary of your Will; if they are, your gifts to them will be deemed invalid. Good witnesses for your Will include a neighbour or friend who is not included in your Will.
- Delayed probate – the probate process can be lengthy, but a DIY Will with mistakes can draw the process out even further. This can be costly and might mean that your loved ones don’t receive your gifts for a long time.
- Lack of trusts – trusts are not just for the wealthy. They can help to reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax you have to pay and even mitigate potential care fees in the future. With a DIY Will kit, you won’t be able to take advantage of trusts, and you may lose out on all the tax benefits that come with them.
Unlike professional Will writing services, DIY kits do not provide advice about executors, beneficiaries, and gifts. For example, you may not realise what happens to a gift if you provide a fallback provision or no longer own the asset when you pass away.
DIY Wills can also be a hindrance if you have left someone out. You may choose not to include someone in your Will for many reasons, but a DIY Will kit can make it easier for them to challenge it. There are several ways that you can mitigate this risk, but a DIY Will kit does not cover these and can make it easier for disputes to succeed.
At worst, a DIY Will can be completely invalid, and your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. These rules dictate where your estate goes, so even with a Will, you may not get a say in where your assets go. The best way to avoid this is to have a professionally written Will.
What to Consider When Making a Will
Creating or redoing a Will can be intimidating. The most important things to consider are:
- Your executors – the executors of your Will are incredibly important, as they will distribute your gifts and arrange tax payments. Make sure they are trustworthy, as being an executor is a lot of responsibility. You can choose up to four executors for your estate, although the standard is two. It’s also important to consider whether your executors can act independently of one another or together (jointly or jointly and severally).
- Trusts and trustees – trusts are great for estate planning purposes. When established, you will need to select one or more trustees to take care of the assets you place in them. Like being an executor, this includes significant responsibility, so the people you choose need to be trustworthy.
- Beneficiaries – consider who you want to leave your assets to in the future. You may want to leave your estate to your partner or split it equally between your partner and your children. It is also good to consider who your gifts should go to if a beneficiary passes away before you do.
- Charity – many people leave a gift to charity in their Will. You can specify how the money should be used, but remember to include the name and registered charity number, so the gift doesn’t fail. Gifts can also reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax you need to pay.
- Assets – remember to value all your assets before writing your Will and setting aside gifts for your beneficiaries. Make sure to include money in your bank accounts, any property and land you own, your personal possessions such as cars, jewelry, or art, and business assets.
Professional Will Writing
Getting a professional Will written may be more costly than a DIY Will kit, but it can save you and your loved ones thousands of pounds in the future by being error-free.
When your estate is more complex, a DIY Will kit can harm your estate much more than it can help. This may be the case if you have foreign properties and bank accounts or share a home with a partner you are not married to. A sufficient Will ensures that your estate is not mismanaged and your assets go exactly where you want them to.
Get in touch with The Planning Bee to start your Will today. Our team of expert paralegals will give you greater peace of mind for the future by reviewing your needs and ensuring your estate plan is tailored to your wishes.