“You can buy a DIY Will kit in high street stores for cheap. Why do I need to pay a Solicitor to make a Will?”
The truth is you do not need a Solicitor to make a Will. You can make a make a basic Will using a DIY Will kit. A DIY Will may seem a more cost-effective option to creating a Will when you compare the fees set by a law firm.
However, instructing a Solicitor to deal with your Will is likely to save your family money in the long run and will make sure that the Will that’s protecting your family is valid and appropriate to your family’s situation.
What is a Will?
A Will is a formal document that contains specific instructions by you to an ‘executor’ who will oversee your estate when you pass away. This document is legally binding, if created correctly, and will decide what happens to your property, assets and finances when you’re gone. Therefore, a Will is an important document in order to protect your family’s future.
A Will can include:
- Who you want to benefit from your Will
- Who should look after any children under 18
- Who is going to sort out your estate and carry out your wishes after your death (your executor)
- What happens if the people you want to benefit die before you
- What happens to other possessions such as pets, online accounts, online photos, or social media accounts
- Additional informal instructions such as how you would like arrangements for your funeral to take place
As a Will is such an important aspect of your family’s infrastructure and future, it’s crucial that the document is legally binding and has your family’s best interests at its core. To achieve this the following needs to happen:
- The Will needs to be written correctly and clearly and contain no errors
- The Will needs to be witnessed correctly
- You need to be in a correct state of mind when creating the Will
- The Will needs to be stored safely
- The Will needs to be officially altered when major changes in your life area made i.e. marriage, children, large purchases etc
- You need to seek legal advice
Avoiding any of the above can risk the validity of the Will.
Whilst creating a Will yourself may appear a more cost-effective option now, a DIY Will may cause various issues at a later time. These issues can include:
- As you’re not a professional your Will may be poorly drafted and contain errors. These errors can cause delays and additional costs after you’re gone, leaving your family additional stress
- The Will may not be correctly signed and witnessed, making the Will invalid
- Contents of the Will being challenged, which could include your state of mind whilst creating the Will being challenged
- The Will does not reflect changes in your personal circumstances
- Your family may pay additional inheritance tax
- Your family situation is complicated, and this has not been reflected correctly in the Will resulting in your wishes not being fulfilled
- Your Will is complex and therefore a DIY kit is not sufficient for the purpose
If you use a DIY Will kit, the company that supplies it won’t take any responsibility for your will being correctly made.
Challenging the validity of a Will may cost your family an unwarranted amount of money after you’re gone, and they will need to instruct a legal professional to help.
If your Will is deemed invalid, then the Government will be in control of what happens to your estate and it will be distributed according to the ‘rules of intestacy’.
DIY Wills are also to blame for a prolonged probate ordeal for 38,000 families a year. The number of inheritance disputes heard in the High Court increased from 227 in 2018 to 368 in 2019 which is largely due to DIY Wills.
Why you should instruct a Solicitor rather than make a DIY Will
A Solicitor who specialises in Will writing will be experienced at dealing with all manners of Wills, from simple to complex, and will ensure your Will Is valid. Instructing a Solicitor can achieve the following:
- Guarantee the Will is legally valid
- Avoid any successful challenges made to the Will after you’re gone
- Gain professional advice on your estate planning
- Minimise the amount of inheritance tax
- Draft the Will for you and arrange for the Will to be signed correctly
- Make any amendments to your Will when your personal circumstances change
- Provide you with a copy of the Will and store the original safely
You should also seek legal advice if the Will is not straightforward, for example:
- You share a property with someone who is not your husband, wife or civil partner
- You want to leave money or property to a dependant who cannot care for themselves
- You have several family members who may make a claim on your will, such as a second spouse or children from another marriage
- Your permanent home is outside the UK
- You have property overseas
- You have a business
You can read more on the importance of owning a Will here.
Written by Lindsey Rawson, Partner and Wills, Trusts & Probate specialist.
The team at Howells are also dementia friend trained, our offices are easily accessible for all and we offer telephone appointments and home visits where necessary. You can email Howells to make an appointment at email@example.com, visit our website or call us:
Sheffield: 0114 249 66 66
Barnsley: 0122 680 51 90
Rotherham: 0170 936 40 00