Almost everybody would agree that making a Will is important to ensure that people you trust will deal with the administration of your estate after your death, that your property and assets pass to your loved ones and to avoid stress and uncertainty for all concerned after your death.
Some people are tempted to save money by making their own Wills.
It is difficult to think of a more obvious example of false economy.
Solicitors’ fees for Wills vary according to how complex the Will is going to be but most clients are pleasantly surprised at how reasonable our charges are. We start at £200 plus VAT for a simple Will for a single person and £275 plus VAT for a married or civil partnered couple.
DIY Wills are (in the short-term at least) a cheaper alternative, usually costing around £50. If you look online you might even get a DIY kit for £10!
So what could possibly go wrong? Well quite a lot actually.
It was recently estimated that poorly drafted or ineffective DIY Wills cause serious problems for about 38,000 families each year and that in such cases up to 10% of the value of a person’s estate can be spent on the additional fees incurred as a result of sorting out the defective Will.
The average estate in the UK is presently about £160,000 so the costs of having an ineffective DIY Will could be around £16,000. Based on our current charges we would prepare 80 simple Wills for that!
Still not convinced?
OK – here are some examples of the kind of mistakes that can easily be made:-
- Forgetting that property and investments can change.
For example, somebody might want to leave the property they live in to somebody else. They might then sell the property and buy another one without reviewing their Will. Unless the original gift is expressly stated to include the replacement property then the person will not get the house. The same goes for gifts of monies invested, in particular bank accounts, premium bonds etc. Proper drafting can ensure that you achieve the desired result whatever changes may occur before you die.
- Not making a gift of residue.
It is always sensible to sweep up any assets not specifically disposed of in a residuary gift. If you don’t it could go to someone that you don’t want to benefit.
- Not considering that beneficiaries might die before you
Once again, if there is no proper provision then the law takes over and that can often produce undesired results.
- Not properly describing assets left by Will.
Get it wrong and there could well be an argument
- Not getting Wills properly executed.
The requirements are stringent and inflexible. Get it wrong and the Will is invalid. There are no exceptions. We have seen several home-made Wills over the years that do not comply.
- Alterations made after the Will has been executed
Such as crossing things out or changing things. Such alterations will not be valid. Indeeed you will probably render the whole Will invalid.
As we said at the start of this article cutting corners to save cost really is false economy and it isn’t fair on those you may leave behind.
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