DIY WILL WRITING RISKS - UK CONTESTED PROBATE SOLICITORS

 

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DIY Wills

The ideal will is one that represents the wishes of the testator in unambiguous terms. It is a document that dictates the distribution of the deceased’s assets in a clear, irrefutable manner. In theory, this sounds like a simple proposition however in practice, individuals often unwittingly create documents that don’t comply with the legal requirements for a valid will by the use of either an unqualified firm or by the use of a cheap home DIY will writing kit. After the testator’s death, the executor of the will is left to contend with legal actions brought by potential beneficiaries or dependants not provided for in the will. Substantial legal fees may be incurred to put things right.

 

Unqualified will writing companies often selling DIY will writing kits advertise all over the Internet, on television and in newspapers and magazines. What they don’t tell you is that most of their employees have absolutely no qualifications to be writing wills. You assume you will be saving money but their fees are often higher than those of qualified solicitors who traditionally write wills as a loss leader in order to deal with the estate in due course.

Solicitors Accountability

Solicitors are held accountable for their actions on many levels. Their profession is governed by statutes and their practices are overseen by the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Solicitors also have to answer to client complaints through the Legal Complaints Service. If a mistake is made using a DIY will writing kit you have no recourse. Solicitors, on the other hand, are legally required to carry negligence insurance and also to contribute to a compensation fund. Solicitors must continue their professional education in order to renew their practicing certificate each year. Consider it, you have the choice between a highly skilled professional, overseen on many legal and governmental levels or an unregulated stranger who was trained in a short course.

Testamentary Errors

There is no legal requirement that you have assistance from a solicitor in making your will however the “do it yourself” approach is rife with pitfalls. So many pitfalls, in fact, that there is an entire cottage industry of lawyers whose business centres on sorting out the validity of wills written by non-experts. All too often, mistakes have been made which prevent assets from being distributed according to the testator’s true wishes. Here are some of the most common mistakes made by those who create their own wills or use an amateur service:

~ failure to properly execute the will by signing the document in front of two non-beneficiary witnesses
~ failing to bequeath all assets in the estate, opening up the opportunity for the government to claim the remaining assets
~ failure to take account of all contingencies, such as births, marriages, divorces and deaths
~ failure to act promptly after a divorce, the legal effective of which is to void previous executorships and dispositions to the former spouse
~ improper alterations made to the document resulting in an invalid codicil
~ failure to account for dependents entitled to support under applicable statutes

 

For most people, your home is the most valuable asset you own. When you consider the value of your real property, you understand how important will writing is. The average person owns real property worth several hundred thousand pounds. Far too much is at stake to leave the distribution of your assets in the hands of an amateur. Families have enough to deal with when coping with the loss of a loved one. Handling a legal dispute over a contested will is an avoidable burden.

SOLICITORS HELPLINE 0345 515 0653