Currently, there is no requirement for people to make a Will under English law. And, in fact, a study carried out by ‘Remember a Charity’ in 2019 found that 68% of UK adults do not have a Will.
If you’re one of these people, and you’re now contemplating writing a Will yourself — proceed with caution. A ‘homemade Will’ is more often than not deemed invalid. And even if it isn’t, you’ll rarely get it perfect without professional legal help.
Let’s discuss why this is in further detail.
What Is a Homemade Will?
A ‘homemade Will’ is a Will written by yourself. It is legally binding and valid if signed and witnessed correctly.
You can obtain homemade Will packs from the local stationers or post office, making it tempting to save the cost of drafting in a professional. But beware. Homemade Wills are rarely a good idea and could result in a poorly written, invalid, or ambiguous document that leads to further expense and complications. You should also take precautions when paying “professionals” over the internet for their services — if it’s cheap, there’s a good chance it won’t be watertight.
What Could Go Wrong With a Homemade Will?
Improper signing and witnessing
If you don’t have a legal professional handling your Will, the signing and witnessing of the document could go wrong. This can invalidate the document, potentially resulting in a non-beneficiary receiving assets.
Let’s give you an example. Imagine a couple live together but aren’t married. They both make homemade Wills, leaving their finances to each other in the event of death. If the couple doesn’t correctly witness the Will, they could find that the estate isn’t left to their partner. By intestacy rules (followed if you die without a Will), any assets will then pass to a blood relative, regardless of whether they were mentioned in the Will.
Outdated or ambiguous Wills
The homemade Will should make it clear that the deceased has left their entire estate to beneficiaries. A person may often decide to leave their house or a particular bank account to someone, if these are their only assets when writing the document. However, the Will could be made many years before their death, and, as such, things may change by the time the individual dies. They may have sold their house or no longer have the bank account, for instance. Therefore, the intended beneficiaries wouldn’t receive anything.
The difficulties arising out of a homemade Will can lead to complications, uncertainty, and financial hardship for those grieving the loss of a loved one.
By preparing a professionally written Will, you can ensure that your finances and future wishes are handled with care. Don’t risk your family’s future — have a specialist handle your Will and you’ll save money in the long run.
SAS Daniels have a dedicated Wills team who can assist with getting things right first time around. We will also ensure that, when the time comes, the administration of your estate proceeds as smoothly as possible.