Don’t Risk It! Writes Martin Wade, Director of Fielding Triggs Wills and Estate Planners
There is no such thing as a “Free Will” in my opinion. Unless you consider your time to be worthless. Furthermore, a DIY Will that contains errors or is not written to best suit you and your family’s needs can be very costly in the long-run. Rather than saving a small amount to write it yourself, it pays to consult an expert.
A basic Will, written by an expert Will and Estate Planner is not an expensive investment, but it is an extremely important one.
Mistakes or contradictions in a Will can make it invalid or likely to be contested. It may also be the case that a basic Will is not enough to achieve everything that you would like.
An expert can discuss and explain the many options available to you through Trusts and Estate Planning. A Basic Will is limited in comparison. Will you really get the best out of your affairs for those you love without expert advice? I would suggest not.
You Get What You Pay For
The old adage, “It is the thought that counts,” is not always true in life and even less so in death. When it comes to your Will, only the original document counts. If it does not accurately convey your wishes, your loved ones may not benefit in the way you had intended. Furthermore, mistakes can invalidate your Will.
If your Will is invalid when you die, you will die intestate. This can be financially and emotionally stressful for your loved ones. It can delay access to funds that you meant to leave to your beneficiaries. They may be relying on these funds to pay bills and the mortgage.
By talking to an expert about a wide range of potential outcomes and scenarios, you can make the best provisions for your loved ones. They will likely highlight areas and contingencies that you were not aware of. Although a DIY Will off the shelf may seem like an economical option, it could be more expensive for your loved ones after you die if you have missed opportunities in your Will.
Given that your Will is one of the most important legal documents that you can write, it pays to invest in it wisely.
Common Errors in DIY Wills
Simple errors can be very problematic. For example the document must be dated and witnessed correctly – watch our video. Incorrect spellings or contradictions in the text should be avoided to ensure the instructions in the Will can be carried out. The instructions must also be clear and specific. Vagueness can mean that the Will is open to interpretation. This is a significant flaw which can lead to lengthy and expensive court cases.
There are other areas that you may want to seek professional advice on such as Inheritance Tax. You don’t want to leave your beneficiaries with an unnecessarily expensive bill.
Errors and oversights can cost your beneficiaries time and money. Why not speak to an expert?
When should I consult an expert?
If you do not yet have a Will you should consult an expert as soon as possible. However there are some key flag posts in life when it pays to write or review your Will and Estate Planning.
- Births and adoption When you have children, you are likely to have a good idea who you would like to take care of them should something happen to the parents. You should put this into your Will by appointing Legal Guardians.
- Unmarried couples The law doesn’t always catch up with modern life as quickly as we might like. (Read our blog about unmarried couples). If you would like your partner to inherit when you die, put it in your Will.
- Divorced You may want to update your will to include what happens to your assets if a previous partner remarries.
- Funeral plans This can be a huge benefit to your loved ones when you die. You can cover funeral costs and plan your funeral to take this burden away from others at the most difficult time of grief. Find out more in our funeral planning pages.
- Mortgage If you have a ‘Tenants in Common’ mortgage, you should state what you want to happen to your share of the house when you die.
- Business Owner? What will happen to the shares in your business? How will the business and its staff continue when you are gone? Read our Business pages for help with Wills and Cover.
- Pets We love our pets and treat them as part of the family. If this is true for you, write them into your Will.