Latest figures reveal only 59% of the UK have written a will. Of those people, 6% have written a DIY will. While there are some advantages to create-your-own wills, there are even more pitfalls. Here, we explore some of the reasons why DIY wills may not be the answer…
Whilst most of us have come across DIY will kits or online will creation websites, have you ever asked yourself “are DIY wills legal?” The short answer is yes, although they must still meet all requirements of a professionally written will.
A DIY will kit doesn’t provide sufficient help and guidance for the more complex circumstances in your life. This includes, for example, if you aren’t married to your partner, have children from a previous relationship or hold an inheritance in a trust until a child’s 18th birthday. Using the services of a will writing professional means you have access to all the assistance you need, greatly reducing the risk of mistakes in your will.
Although a DIY will may cut costs initially, it could cost you in the long-term. All wills must be written using the correct terms and language, as well as ‘witnessed’ by the right people. If this isn’t done properly, then the will is invalid and could cost your heirs their estate, or money intended for them. Hiring a will writing professional helps you to avoid this pitfall; a well-written will is more robust when faced with any potential objections.
Even if your will is still valid, there’s a bigger chance that distributing assets to your heirs could take a lot longer than usual. This can come with additional fees and, in some cases, unnecessary tax. According to the Co-operative Legal Services (CLS), 38,000 families a year experience prolonged probate ordeals for poorly written DIY wills.
What’s more, up to 10% of your estate could be subjected to unnecessary fees if your will is ineffective. The average value of a person’s estate in the UK is currently £160,000 – so this could incur costs of up to £16,000, a cost which could be avoided if a will writing professional was used.
It’s also worth thinking about what could happen if your circumstances change during your lifetime. For example, if you get married, have children or grandchildren, someone named in your will passes away or if your financial situation changes then your will also needs to be altered. Significant changes to your will means you’ll need a new one, whereas smaller changes call for a codicil (a document that allows you to make minor adjustments to your will).
It can be daunting to make these changes, especially if you’re already going through a stressful time due to a death in the family, a divorce or financial issues. Calling on the help of a will writer can greatly reduce stress and the worry of whether or not your will has been rewritten correctly.
For help and advice on the potential pitfalls of DIY wills, please call ELM Legal Services on 0800 019 4557.