They’re an ever- present feature of most newsagents and stationary shops; the DIY Will pack. Usually emblazoned with a gold- lettered “Barrister- approved!” logo and promising to “save you £££!” these professional- looking bundles promise to make writing your own Will as easy as tying your own shoelaces.
However, despite their high- end claims, most Will- writing packs present a major false economy. A closer inspection of the contents usually reveals a pro- forma Will with ‘fill in the gaps’- style boxes to insert your personal details, the names of an Executor or two, perhaps a couple of gifts of money, before the name of the ultimate beneficiary of what’s left of your assets. Want to appoint replacement Executors? No can do. Want to gift a specific piece of property- a family heirloom perhaps- and not just a stack of cash? Does not compute. Want to divide what’s left between a number of different people in different shares? Out of the question. And that’s without the myriad considerations surrounding tax. Everyone’s personal circumstances and wishes are different and a 10- minute ‘fill in the blanks’ Will form will not suit the vast majority of people.
With this in mind, here are the top 5 reasons that a DIY Will pack is a false economy:
1. You don’t know what you don’t know
Whilst most people go to a Solicitor with a plan as to what they want to include in their Wills, a professional advisor can identify possible problems and suggest solutions. What if your choice of Executor is significantly older than you- and therefore likely to not be around to take on the role? What if you want to leave money to your children, but want to make sure that they don’t fritter it away? What if you want your wife to have first- refusal of your personal possessions, with the remainder going to charity? A professional adviser can take you through the options and indentify the solution that’s right for you.
2. DIY Wills don’t explain the law
Did you know that you have to sign your Will a certain way- and in front of certain people- in order for it to be valid? Not following this procedure can lead to your Will being declared null and void. Most Will kits come with reams of ‘explanatory notes’ that attempt to explain the law, but more often than not lead to confusion. A professional advisor can explain the law succinctly and ensure that everything is in order and legally binding.
3. All (valid) Wills are equal, but some are more equal than others
Even if your DIY Will is legally valid, there’s no guarantee that it will accurately reflect your wishes. All too often, disputes arise between competing family members as to the true meaning of a Will, which can lead to lengthy- and expensive- legal battles.
4. The nuances of the law are constantly changing
As recently as Summer 2017, a major Supreme Court decision was handed down that concerned how best to make certain gifts in a Will. Solicitors have their fingers on the pulse, and advise based on the most up- to- date state of the law. DIY Will packs do not.
5. A small extra investment now can save a lot of worry further down the line
Whilst a £20 DIY Will Pack seems like a good investment compared to £135 plus VAT, a professionally- drafted Will takes out the guesswork, worry and the potential for huge court fees further down the line. We offer a free initial 30 minute consultation in order to fully understand your situation before we start work and tailor your Will based on your particular circumstances and wishes.