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Posted 12 January 2018
by Sue Halfyard

Home-made Wills

Solicitors in Exeter writing on a document

It can seem like a quick and easy option to buy a ‘Will pack’ which enables you to write your own Will. You may feel that your wishes are straightforward and it is just as simple for you to prepare your own Will as to go to a solicitor for assistance.

Please bear in mind, though, that a Will is one of the most important documents which you will create during your lifetime. It deals not only with the disposition of your property, but also covers decisions such as the appointment of your Executors, who will deal with the administration of your estate after you are gone, and can set out details of your funeral wishes.

Due to the importance of Wills, complex legal formalities govern the process of putting one in place and the terms used in the document. Common problems with home-made Wills can therefore include:

  • The Will has not been signed and witnessed in accordance with the strict rules which apply.
  • A witness is also a beneficiary.
  • Dependents are left out of the Will, leaving it open to challenge.
  • Amendments are made to the Will incorrectly or the Will is changed after completion.
  • The wording used is ambiguous.

The slightest error or misunderstanding of the use of legal terms can cause disputes amongst family members or may cause the Will to be ambiguous. You may think that your home-made Will is clear, but, after your death, you will not be able to clarify any misunderstanding or dispute between family members. Solicitors are then employed to deal with family disputes over badly-written Wills and this can be expensive.

In the worst-case scenario, if the formalities of signing a Will are not followed, this can lead to your estate being treated as if you had died intestate, i.e. without a Will. Where you die without a Will, your assets are distributed under the laws of intestacy according to a statutory set of rules which leave a person’s estate to their next of kin in a fixed order which may not be in accordance with your wishes.

As you can see, making a Will is an important decision and it will have major implications for your family when you are gone. A cost saving of a few hundred pounds now may sound like good news, but it is far better to have your Will drawn up correctly by a professional now to try and avoid any possible costly disputes in the future.

If you need any assistance regarding this matter, then please do not hesitate to contact our experienced team of will and probate solicitors in Exeter.

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About the author

Sue Halfyard

Associate & Chartered Legal Executive

Associate lawyer in the wealth management department