Making Your Own Will: Is It Really For The Best?

Nobody wants to think about their own death.  Unless you plan ahead and make a Will, there is no guarantee that your final wishes will be met.  But is making your own Will such a good idea……….

Your options for writing your own will

In theory, you could scribble your Will on a piece of paper. As long as it is properly signed and witnessed by two adult independent witnesses who are present at the time you sign your Will, it should be legally binding. But that doesn’t always mean it’s a good idea.

There are some general rules for what you say and how you say it in your Will. These standard ways of writing your wishes are tried and tested and they remove any confusion about what you mean – even if the language seems unusual and unnecessarily difficult at first.

The wrong wording could mean that your Will isn’t actually valid, or could mean that your instructions aren’t followed. Therefore, it’s a good idea to use a template that has the standard sections and legal terms included.

DIY Wills can appear to be good value

When it comes to making your own Will, one of the cheapest options is a ‘DIY Will’ – with some templates being priced from approximately at £20.

But while an off-the-shelf Will or online equivalent may seem very tempting at this price, this can be a risky approach.

Tread carefully before drawing up a DIY Will

If you make any errors when making your own Will, or if you fail to get it witnessed correctly, this could render the document invalid. Other common mistakes include:

  1. Failing to leave clear instructions
  2. Making invalid amendments – you can’t just change details in your Will
  3. Allowing a beneficiary to be a witness
  4. Not updating your Will frequently – you should review your Will whenever your circumstances change
  5. Putting it in that safe place….where no one can find it!
  6. The description of assets or property being too vague
  7. Making spelling mistakes of peoples names or charities – this could result in the gift failing

If your Will is invalid, you risk leaving your family with a huge amount of problems and financial stress at what is already a very emotional time. There is also a risk that your legacy could be used up by paying unnecessary tax or legal bills – it is estimated that up to 10% of a person’s estate could be paid in legal fees if there is a problem with your Will – that’s £20,000 based on an estate worth £200,000!

You might save money up front compared with using a professional service, but if you get anything wrong you could be stirring up trouble for your family and friends when it comes to sorting out your finances after you’ve died.

Remember that, if you use a Will template, the company that supplies it won’t take any responsibility for your Will being correctly made. If you make any mistakes which cause problems when your Will is read, there won’t be any legal comeback or protection for you.

When it’s a good idea to write your own will

In general, you should only write your own Will if your wishes are very simple, for example, if you’re married and:

  • You want to leave everything to your husband or wife, and
  • If they die before you, you want to leave everything to your children.

If there’s anything more complicated than that – for example, if you have step-children or you aren’t married to your partner – you should probably use a professional service.

When you shouldn’t write your own will

There are circumstances where you should definitely use professional help to write:

  • You are not married to your partner
  • You own property abroad or have foreign investments or bank accounts,
  • You’re trying to reduce your Inheritance Tax bill,
  • If you own a business to leave as part of your Will,
  • You have people who are financially dependent on you other than your immediate family,
  • If your Will includes any wishes that might be misunderstood or are complex.

If you do decide to write your own will

 If you believe that writing your own Will is the way to go, make absolutely sure you’ve covered these key points:

  • Make sure the Will is signed, dated and witnessed correctly.
  • Carefully check your spelling – particularly people’s names.
  • Be specific – for example, don’t just leave everything to ‘my wife’, name your wife
  • Destroy any old Wills – if you already have a Will, make sure you destroy the old one and make sure the new one clearly states that it revokes the old one.
  • Tell your executor where the Will is to be kept.

Are you unsure about making your own Will?  Would you like some professional advice?

If you are putting off writing your Will because you are unsure of how to go about it or can’t decide on the fine detail, then there is no need to worry.  To provide you with peace of mind, you can discuss your situation and concerns with Trusted Law.

It is a process that can be dealt with relatively quickly, and it can save you hours of stress trying to figure out what is needed.

Trusted Law offers convenient appointments in the comfort of your own home – including evenings and weekends!  So it couldn’t be easier…..

To make your appointment, or for an informal chat, please feel free to contact us on 01953 711950 / 07972 212355 or via email at enquiries@trustedlaw.co.uk

Please note that this information is provided as a guide only and in accordance with the current laws as at the date of publishing. 

 About Trusted Law Ltd

Trusted Law (previously Trusted Wills & Probate Ltd) provides a wide range of services to protect your loved ones and your assets, providing you with much needed peace of mind.  Our team take the time to get to know you, your family and your wishes to ensure that we are providing you with the right service.

No matter how complicated your situation may be, we will work with you to find the right solution.

To read more about how Trusted Law was establish please click here.

 If you would like to discover what my clients say about us, please feel free to read my client Testimonials.

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