The latest figures reveal that only 59% of people in the UK have written a Will.
Out of those people, 6% have made a Do it Yourself Will (DIY Wills).
There can be many pitfalls to creating your own Will. DIY Wills are perfectly legal, and if instructions are followed carefully they should still meet all the requirements of a professionally written Will. A DIY Will kit does not normally provide sufficient help or guidance for the more complicated situations in life, such as having children from a previous marriage, providing for minor beneficiaries or wishing to exclude family members. Using a professional to write your Will reduces the risk of making mistakes and ensures that the people you wish to benefit from your estate, do.
A DIY Will may reduce the costs initially, however this could end up costing vastly more in the long term. There are strict formalities to witnessing a Will correctly, and ensuring the correct terminology is used to avoid any confusion over who is to inherit. Using incorrect terminology could mean that your instructions aren’t followed, or even that your will isn’t valid. Drafting errors in DIY wills can cause confusion, and, on the death of a loved one, may result in unnecessary applications to the court to clarify the terms of a will. By seeking professional advice, you are ensuring that a will has been correctly drafted to reflect your current wishes and should a potential will dispute arise, the file can be used as evidence.
A professional is also able to flag up any areas in which you may need additional advice, for example in relation to trusts, inheritance tax planning or issues relating to property owned overseas.
According to the Cooperative Legal Services (CLS) 38,000 families a year experience prolonged probate ordeals as a result of poorly written DIY Wills. Up to 10% of your estate could be subject to unnecessary fees if your Will is ineffective, at what can already be an emotionally distressing time.
The putting in place of a will and regularly reviewing it is very important. Ringrose Law fees currently start from £170 plus VAT for a simple Will and £250 plus VAT for a simple mirror Will (for couples).