Firstly, let's explain what a DIY Will is. It is a blank document that you can obtain from your Union or a stationary shop that is a template for making your own Will.
Now, of course, as professionals, we are going to say these are a bad idea but let us explain why.
Administrative Problems & Signing Criteria
There are an array of administrative errors that can be made when drafting your own Will - this can lead to complications about your wishes.
It is not enough to say that you want to leave your house and money to a loved one, legally this is not enough to warrant a valid gift.
But the most common administrative error is the signing of the Will itself. The document can often be signed in the wrong place, not dated, signed by the wrong people - not everyone can be a witness to your Will.
A Will not signed correctly can ultimately invalidate your wishes and mean that the rules of Intestacy will apply.
The Cost of Not Taking Advice
In England and Wales, we have testamentary freedom meaning that we can leave our assets to whomever we wish.
Succession laws differ from each country; France's forced heirship is a well-known example.
However, that doesn't mean that English law won't step in if a disappointed beneficiary believes they have a claim against your estate.
You may indeed exclude a beneficiary from your Will. A thorough legal account of your attendance will explain to the Court that you took the appropriate advice, considered your moral and legal obligations to all those you ought to.
There are countless scenarios to explain why each individual should take advice.
Another example could be that you co-own a business; you believe you can leave this business outright to a beneficiary. Without reviewing your shareholder's agreement or partnership agreement, this may not be the case. You may also be wasting an inheritance tax allowance which can be quite costly to your estate.
Costs are usually the main factor in why individuals choose to prepare a DIY Will but the lack of legal advice and expertise can prove to be far greater in the long run.
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