Can I Make a Will Without a Solicitor?

We frequently encounter homemade Wills during the probate and estate administration process. As such, we see first-hand how DIY Wills can cause issues for the loved ones who are left behind.

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By Nicola Briggs - 4th May 2021

It is perfectly possible to write your own Will. You can also pay someone who has no legal experience to write your Will for you. However, neither option is recommended. This is because you won’t necessarily know what provisions to include – and what to exclude. This could actually invalidate your Will, making the document entirely useless. Your estate will then be administered according to the rules of intestacy instead, which might not correspond with your wishes.

DIY Wills – a false economy

You might be tempted to write your own Will, on account of the fact that you won’t incur any legal costs. But actually, this could be a false economy.

It is true that when you ask a solicitor to write your Will, there will be a fee to pay. But within that fee you are purchasing the solicitor’s extensive knowledge about inheritance tax, capital gains tax, stamp duty land tax, English property law, trusts, and agricultural and business property relief. You will also receive bespoke advice regarding:

  • Your family and financial circumstances
  • The roles and suitability of Executors and guardians
  • The use of life interest trusts, discretionary trusts or disabled persons’ trusts
  • The rights of occupation of properties
  • Possible claims against the estate
  • The likely incidence of care home fees

Therefore, you are benefitting from the solicitor’s years of training, and their continuing compulsory annual training. You also enjoy the added protection offered by the governance of solicitors by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The SRA is the regulatory body that ensures solicitors are properly insured and hold current practicing certificates.

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Problems with DIY Wills

With a DIY Will, however, you have no expert input. This is potentially very dangerous. After all, a Will is a legal document. It should be drawn up by a legal professional. Without this help, it is very possible that you will make mistakes, in turn creating a number of problems for your family. At best, there may be some confusion as to who should receive a particular gift. At worst, a gift could fail or the entire Will could be deemed invalid. If the latter happens, then your estate will be treated as if you died ‘intestate’, meaning without a valid Will in place. Any wishes you expressed during your lifetime will be ignored, and your estate will be administered according to the rules of intestacy instead.

Even a very basic error can invalidate the Will, such as failing to sign it. This could mean that certain loved ones are not provided for, and that your wishes remain unfulfilled. It could also lead to bitter in-fighting amongst your friends and family, along with lengthy (and very costly) court proceedings. When you consider these potential consequences, the cost of a Wills Solicitor pales in comparison.

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Real-life examples

We frequently encounter homemade Wills during the probate and estate administration process. As such, we see first-hand how DIY Wills can cause issues for the loved ones who are left behind. Some real-life examples include:

  • A beneficiary under the Will who acted as witness, thereby preventing them from receiving their inheritance.
  • A testator who purchased a pre-printed Will and did not complete the relevant sections, resulting in the failure of a gift.
  • A testator who focused on the gifts they wished to make and failed to deal with the residuary estate (this being anything not already mentioned) thereby creating a partial intestacy.
  • A testator who left a house without specifying if the mortgage was to be paid out of the residuary estate or by the person to whom the house was gifted.
  • A testator who left jewellery to family without defining who should fall in to that description.

In each and every case, we have had to explain to the family that these problems need never have arisen, had professional advice been taken at the drafting stage.

Speak to our Wills solicitors

If you would like to make a Will, please contact us at Aticus Law. We can write a Will that fulfils your wishes, is legally valid, and helps protect your estate from disgruntled beneficiaries.

Once we have settled the draft Will with you, we ensure that it is properly executed. A due process has to be followed to ensure that the Will is valid. Should there be a question as to the validity of the Will, we are on hand to provide evidence that you, the person signing the Will, had full mental capacity, were able to understand the contents of the Will, agreed to the contents of the Will and were not subject to any undue influence or pressure. It may be necessary to give this evidence to the probate registry to enable a Grant of Representation to be obtained, or to a court in the event that the Will is contested.

Call us today or email info@aticuslaw.co.uk to book a consultation with one of our experts.

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