In English law there is no requirement to make a will and statistics show that one in three of the population die without one. What is not always revealed is how many people die with a home-made will, which is either completely invalid or is valid in some way but does not reflect the true wishes of the person making it.
Home-made will packs can readily be obtained from the local stationers or post office which means that it is tempting to save on the costs of a professionally drawn will. However unless the wording is clear in the will the person making it may describe their wishes in such a way that a gift in their will is ambiguous, which could lead to expensive costs and complications on their death.
It is also easy to get the signing and witnessing of a will wrong – and this can completely invalidate the document. This could mean that someone benefits from the estate who the deceased would not intend to do so. If, for example, a couple live together (but are not married) and make home-made wills leaving their finances to each other, but did not arrange for the wills to be correctly witnessed, they could find that their partner would not inherit any of their estate and it passes to a blood relative who they may not have seen for many years.
The wording of a home-made will also should ensure that the deceased has left their entire estate to beneficiaries. Often a person may decide to leave their house or a particular bank account to someone if these are their only assets when they made the will. However, it may be many years before their death and many things may have changed. They may have sold the house or no longer have the account and the intended beneficiaries may not receive anything.
The difficulties arising out of a home-made will can also come at a time of loss and can lead to complications, uncertainty and financial difficulty for those who are left which can be very upsetting and stressful for the family.
By preparing a professionally drawn will, you can be re-assured that all aspects of your finances, your wishes and other planning for the family’s future can be reviewed. This thorough planning by specialists can often be much more cost effective in the long run.
SAS Daniels have a dedicated wills team who can assist with this and will also ensure that when the time comes, the administration of the estate can proceed as smoothly as possible.
For more information, please contact Helen Gowin in our Private Client team on 01260 282351.