Avoiding the Temptations of Do It Yourself Wills, in the Covid 19 Crisis

The current suggestions by the Government in respect of the current Covid 19 Crisis still remains in situ, and we have noticed there is a temptation to consider writing your own will. 

It may be that people feel it is safer to avoid the need to travel out and visit a Will Writer, or to meet them in a home setting. Do It Your Self wills are not without their dangers though, and this article will set out why they should be avoided. 

What can go Wrong with a Do It Yourself Will? 

Your estate planning may not be as simple as you think.  

  1. Do you own property abroad? 
  2. Do you own a business or a farm
  3. Maybe you have a large estate, and you would like to plan for the best Inheritance Tax (IHT) outcome. 

If so you might not be in the best position to write your own will, as you would benefit from taking professional advice on all these matters. 

A Professional could advise you to make sure you have an efficient estate plan.  

It would be an easy mistake to make a do it yourself will, if you were not familiar with the signing requirements though. 

The will might be valid, but certain gifts might fail. 

Your do it yourself will might be validity signed and witness, but there is still a danger that your wishes will not take effect, or parts of your will might fall. The main issues you might face are|: 

If one of your beneficiaries or their spouse or civil partner acts as a witness to the will, then any gifts to them will be void. 

The wording used in the will is ambiguous or uncertain.  

The will attempts to gift your ‘share’ in a property that you own with someone else, but the property is owned as joint tenants, so the gift in the will fails. 

The residuary estate is not properly dealt with, so some of your estate passes on intestacy – this is where assets pass to certain relatives in a hierarchy, so not necessarily to the people you wanted to benefit. 

Remember, if something in your will is uncertain, you will not be around to provide any clarity to resolve any issues. That is why it is so important to make sure the wording in the will is clear, certain, and correct legal terminology is used where appropriate. 

  1. You Didn’t Appoint somebody to deal with your estate after your death, or to care for your minor children. 
  2. A will should appoint executors to deal with your estate after you pass away. They will be responsible for dealing with your assets, debts and declaring and paying any relevant taxes, and ultimately making sure your estate passes onto the people you want it to.  
  3. It is important you appoint someone you trust to take on this role, otherwise someone will be appointed after your death, and that person may not be the most suitable executor. 
  4. If you have minor children, you have probably given some thought as to whom you would want to care for them if anything happened to you. It is a common misconception that minor children will automatically pass into the care of their godparents, or next closest relatives, but this is not always the case. To make sure that people you know and trust take on the care of your children, you would need to appoint them as a guardian, and this can be done by a will. This is often something that is overlooked in do it yourself wills, simply because the person making it was not aware it was something they needed to do in their will. 

As always, do not hesitate to contact us.