Why writing your own will might be the biggest mistake you’ll ever make

Why writing your own will might be the biggest mistake you’ll ever make

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should”

We live in a time when there is so much information available to everyone. It appears that in most things we are an adventurous generation. With the internet to guide us, we are willing to tackle almost any task. From hair cutting to learning how to trade on the stock market. We are so smart, we can do it all ourselves. What do we need a professional for?

Reasons you might have considered going it alone –

  1. Saving Money. Having your will written professionally might cost you a few hundred pounds. And writing your own will much less. But would you consider rewiring your own house to save a few pounds? You might save money upfront compared with using a professional service, but if you get anything wrong you could cause serious trouble for your family and friends when it comes to sorting out your finances after you’ve died.
  2. Saving Time. Time is valuable which is why sometimes people either do it themselves or worse still, put it off completely. In reality, an online meeting, a few emails to clarify, and a final date to sign is all it takes.
  3. Covid-19 concerns. With the pandemic still creating some health anxieties, it might seem the best choice. You may feel uneasy, which is why we have taken every precaution to keep everyone safe. You can read our blog here (insert link) which deals with this very issue. Please don’t hesitate to ask if we can help you in any way not addressed in the blog.

The first thing we would like to point out that this isn’t a one size fits all situation. Even when you believe your circumstances are straightforward, and a simple will may suffice, there are a good many things that you might not have considered. Or how important precise wording is. Or what should happen if your beneficiary should predecease you. These are all things that a DIY will might not address.

Reasons to hire a professional –

  • Legalities. Your will might not be considered valid without certain legal terms and phrases, or if the will has not been signed, dated and witnessed correctly – for example, a beneficiary cannot be a witness. Homemade wills are often drafted quickly and/or incorrectly executed, which, as a result, can be found to be ineffective or invalid after death.
  • Avoiding ambiguity. What might seem obvious to you might not be to everyone. This is so important, most people have very clear ideas of what they would like to happen after their passing. If it isn’t absolutely clear, then misunderstandings could easily happen.
  • Different countries, different laws. For example property in Scotland can be treated differently from property in England. Often one will is sufficient, but it’s important to know the differences so that you can prepare properly.
  • Knowing what to include. Understanding which assets need to be itemised and which do not. For example, what can be dealt with in a letter of wishes, and what needs to be in your will.
  • Forgetting important assets. You might not know that you need to include them. Digital Assets are often omitted, such as online bank accounts, websites or Social Media. Digital currencies are often overlooked. What about your intellectual property? Or copyrights?
  • Pets. What happens to your beloved animals after your passing is something else that needs to be addressed.
  • Estate Planning. Bear in mind that your will is only one part of your estate plan. Proper planning may involve taking steps now to mitigate the sting of inheritance taxes later.

Remember that, if you use a will template, the company that supplies it won’t take any responsibility for ensuring its validity. Your beneficiaries will have no recourse in the courts if it’s found to be invalid. There is a reason why most DIY will websites/books/forms carry a disclaimer such as ‘This information is not legal advice and is not a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice consult a solicitor’. Writing your will is one of those things that you might be able to do yourself, but if you get it wrong, you might not have the chance to rectify it.

I am not just a will writer, I am also a fully qualified private client solicitor, though I am currently non-practising. I also have my STEP Advanced Will Writer qualification, passed with Distinction! This gives me a well-rounded knowledge of the law in general, and wills in particular. I can save a lot of stress for those you leave behind, as well as giving you a bit more peace of mind. My clients often feel a great sense of relief after they have taken steps to make sure that their loved ones will be provided for. Please don’t wait, and please don’t hesitate to ask me about how I can help.

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