Cheap and Free DIY Wills: 4 things you need to know

Everyone knows that drawing up a will is a vital a method of guaranteeing that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. DIY wills from the internet or from shops like WH Smith may seem very attractive way of cutting costs but they can be much more risky than people realise.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong with a Will and as this is one of the most important documents you will ever sign you have to ask yourself if it is really worth the risk. Any problems with a Will can cause a great deal of distress for your family and see your assets sucked up in unnecessary probate fees. There are a lot of DIY horror stories out there so it’s best to know the facts.

1) Even small errors can render a Will invalid  

People aren’t always aware of the complexities that can often be involved in writing Wills. Even small errors can render a Will invalid. Some of the most common mistakes with DIY wills include such as failing to get it witnessed correctly, misspelling names or making invalid amendments without a codicil.

Failing to leave clear instructions is another common reason self-written Wills are declared invalid. These include vague statements such as wanting to leave everything to ‘the boys’. If the Will does turn out to be invalid and you die intestate your estate could end up being distributed very differently to how you intended.

2) People who write cheap online Wills probably aren’t legally qualified

It’s easy to be lured by cheap or free will-writing services but any chancer online can call themselves a Will writer since there is no statutory will regulation for these firms. Therefore, if anything does go wrong there is nothing that you can do about it. If a solicitor makes a mistake in writing your Will you can sue them.

Even more worrying are the banks and specialist firms who offer cut price Wills but as a condition will appoint themselves executor. They will then go on to charge tens of thousands of pounds for executing the estate.

3) A Solicitor can make sure your Will is up to date

A lot happens during a lifetime and Wills need to change to reflect circumstances. A huge amount of problems are caused by wills that have become completely inappropriate by the time the person dies. For example it is not commonly known that a Will automatically becomes invalid when a person marries and this can leave many people who think that they have planned for their future actually dying intestate.

Wills will also need to be be rewritten following a divorce, particularly where children are involved. A Will drawn up by a solicitor can make arrangements for this.

4) DIY Wills are not appropriate for complex situations

There are a lot of situations for which DIY Wills are wholly inappropriate and you will need to seek professional legal advice. These include:

  • If you are not a British citizen
  • If you have property or assets overseas
  • If you own your own business
  • If you are concerned about care fee charges
  • If you want to split properties
  • If you have young children
  • If you want to avoid inheritance tax
  • If you aren’t married to your partner

These are just a few but there are many more.

For more information on Wills visit our Wills page or contact us on 0191 284 0363.

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