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Are homemade Wills a recipe for disaster?

View profile for Nicola Mawson
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Are homemade Wills a recipe for disaster?

A Will is potentially the most important document you will ever sign. Not only is it your final instruction for what will happen with everything you own and hold dear to you but it also tells the world after you have departed something about who you were and what you considered important such as looking after your family financially, supporting a sentimental cause or ensuring that a special person was remembered by a special token.

The use of a homemade Will carries a real risk that this vital document does not do what you actually intended it to do or, worse still, may be entirely invalid. Your money saving device may well turn into a hidden time bomb which results in your cherished family, sentimental cause and special person receiving nothing.

I must stress at this stage that if you inadvertently make an invalid Will and have no earlier valid Will intestacy arises and your estate will be distributed in accordance with set rules governed by law. In such circumstances your estate could pass entirely to people you didn't particularly like or didn't even know.

There are so many simple ways to make a Will invalid that it is impossible to cover them all in this article however I will attempt to cover a couple in the hope of persuading you that a homemade Will just isn’t worth the risk.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to get things wrong is at the very simple stage of signing the Will. There are long established and crucial rules which govern how a Will is to be signed. Such rules are not particularly complex however the observance of these formalities are crucial and what may appear to be a minor technicality can have serious consequences.

It is possible to prepare a Will in your own home however it would then be likely that you would call upon your nearest and dearest to witness your Will. Big mistake! By doing so you have potentially just disinherited them from your estate.

The preparation of your Will without a solicitor present also carries the risk that you have not received advice about things you aren’t even aware of. For instance, claims against the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and also inheritance tax planning to minimise the amount taken from your loved ones when you die and given to HMRC.

It is almost inevitable that some form of legal advice will be required during your lifetime and preparation of your Will should be no different.

If you would like to discuss making a Will then please do not hesitate to contact Stephensons Wills and probate department on 0175 321 6399.

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