Should I Write My Own Will?
01 September 2016
There are many reasons why writing your own Will may not be the best way to protect your family and their future.
Often, you realise that it’s best to have a Will and so think that writing your own Will is just as good as asking a professional to do it for you. But there are a number of very good reasons why this is not the case.
Mistakes in a Will
Your Will is a legal document and as a result there are a number of things that have to be included in your Will for it to be valid. These are:
- It must be in writing
- It must be signed by you
- Your signature must be witnessed by two people
If any of these items are missing from your Will or there are mistakes, then your Will won’t be valid. If your Will is not valid, the law will treat your estate as if you never made a Will at all. The Rules of Intestacy will then apply and these rules are very strict on who can and cannot inherit from your estate.
This could cause significant problems for the people you love, particularly if you’ve been living with your partner and haven’t got married. If this is the case and your Will is invalid, then your partner will not inherit any of your estate. The laws of Intestacy also decide how much of your estate goes to your spouse, with the rest of it being given to any children you have.
Any error, not matter how big or small could result in your Will being disregarded.
Mistakes in Signing a Will
Signing your Will correctly can be another hurdle for you if you write your own Will and this is one of the most common mistakes flagged by the Probate Registry.
When you sign a legally binding document, your signature has to be witnessed by two people who have to sign to say they witnessed your signature. If your witnesses sign your Will in the wrong place this can causes issues as to the validity of the Will.
Also, it does matter who you choose to witness your Will. If you choose someone who is due to inherit from your Will, they will automatically exclude themselves from being a beneficiary because they witnessed your signature.
If a Will is made by someone who is very old and infirm, often their signature can be weak and unclear. This could potentially bring into question their capacity at the time of making their Will. When you make a Will you have to understand the decisions you are making and the implications for you and for your family.
What Happens if My Will is Not Valid?
There are a number of things that could happen if you write your own Will and it contains errors. The first example is that when you die and you’ve left someone out of your Will, they could legally challenge your Will.
If they were successful in their challenge, your wishes could be ignored and someone who you didn’t want to benefit from your estate would.
The second scenario is that you made your DIY Will to protect your loved ones. You’d never married your partner, even though you’d lived together for years.
When you die, your partner discovers that mistakes had been made in your Will, your Will is not valid and the Rules of Intestacy are to be followed. The laws of Intestacy are used when there is no Will to decide an estate.
Under the laws of Intestacy, your partner won’t inherit any of your estate because unmarried partners have no rights under the intestacy laws.
Another common mistake that we see from home-made Wills is that the individual tries to include all their existing assets under the Will and not their future estate (i.e. the one they have when they die). So the Will doesn’t properly cover all the assets in their estate. The improper drafting of the Will means that those assets that aren’t covered under the Will then pass under intestacy rules and not in accordance with the will itself.
So you can see from just these three scenarios that the impact of writing your own Will can be devastating for the family and loved ones you leave behind.
You could take the risk and write your own Will and it may turn out alright, but why would you risk leaving the people you love in a very bad situation after you’ve spent your life trying to protect them?
Writing a Will may not be as expensive as you think. A Single Will starts from £125 +VAT (£150 including VAT) - a small price to pay to protect your family.