The Law Gazette has recently reported that ‘DIY Wills’ are being blamed for the rise in probate disputes, and this is certainly something we have encountered. Wills that have not been professionally drafted can frequently omit important details or create uncertainty. This in turn creates problems for executors and family members trying to interpret the testator’s wishes. Court proceedings are usually required where no agreement can be reached, which can be costly and time consuming.
Whilst DIY Wills are cheap to make, they can lead to problems post-death. Common problems we see are:
No executors are appointed. Executors are the people who administer an estate. It is essential that the chosen executors are trustworthy and will follow the testator’s wishes.
Beneficiaries are not clearly identified. This creates difficulty for the executors in distributing the estate, and beneficiaries in establishing their entitlement under the Will.
Estate not fully disposed of. If the Will does not dispose of all of the testator’s assets, a partial intestacy arises. The Intestacy Rules do not provide for certain people such as unmarried partners, and they do not take account of any estrangements.
Inadequate trust provisions. DIY Wills frequently do not contain appropriate trust provisions for children or vulnerable beneficiaries.
No witnesses. In most circumstances, the testator’s signature should be witnessed by two independent people.
Not dated. This creates uncertainty in establishing the last Will.
Taking professional advice should mean these problems are avoided, and give you the peace of mind that your estate will be administered properly and distributed in accordance with your wishes. And in the long run, the costs of rectifying a Will or resolving a dispute in court will far outweigh the initial costs of a professionally drafted Will.