Should a lawyer prepare a Will, or can a DIY kit be used?

Written by Terry Johansson | 27th September 2013

There are many companies now offering will drafting services or DIY Will kits. Whilst these options may seem cheap and time saving, they may have disastrous results if the Will is not prepared or executed correctly.

Even if you think that your wishes are simple and straightforward, it is strongly recommended that you have a solicitor prepare your Will or at least check over it for you. It is easy to make mistakes which may cause disputes after your death or simply invalidate your Will.

Lengthy legal proceedings may be needed to resolve errors in your Will or disputes after your death. These legal proceedings are very likely to take an emotional and financial toll on your family. They may also reduce the value of your estate as  legal costs may be paid from your Estate.

The most common mistakes in preparing a Will are:

  • Not being aware of the requirements needed to make a valid Will;
  • Not considering the effect if the appointed executor or beneficiary predeceases the testator;
  • Making changes to the Will that are not signed and witnessed;
  • Not being aware of the effect of marriage or divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership on a Will;
  • Not being aware of whether the Will applies to foreign assets;
  • Restricting the effect of the Will so that many assets are not covered by the Will, and pass under the Intestacy Rules instead.

As well as preparing your Will, a solicitor can provide advice regarding the possibility of a family member contesting your Will by making a Family Provision claim and ways to minimise this risk.

It is strongly recommended that you seek legal advice where your circumstances or assets are complex. Such situations may be if you wish to make provision for a dependent who is has a disability, you have complex financial affairs or if you own foreign assets.

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2 Comments

  • Lisa |

    Most guarantor agemerents I have seen contain a clause stating that the guarantor’s liability specifically does not end with the death of the tenant.A tenancy agreement is a contract just like a mortgage or a credit card and contracts do not end on death of the person who took it out. As Tessa has mentioned there are certain rights for 3rd parties to inherit tenancies but if the tenancy ended automatically on the death of the named tenant then this wouldn’t be possible and people could be forced from their homes.It may seem unfair in the circumstance where no one wants to inherit the tenancy, but is it fair that the landlord should be out of pocket? As an example, for that one tenancy the landlord may have paid 1% of the property value in transfer fees on the sublet and letting agency fees, as well as the costs of an EPC, electrical safety inspection, deposit registration, inventory/check in etc. They were expecting to have the property income producing for a set period of time to off-set those costs and then hopefully get a return.The best bet is to try and negotiate. In these situations most landlords will agree to release people form their obligations once the property is re-let, although the estate/guarantor may still be liable for any additonal costs relating to the re-let.

    Reply

    • Terry Johansson |

      Guarantor remain liable after the tenant’s death to protect the landlord and a re-letting can cause the liability to cease.
      Any would be tenant needs to negotiate at the beginning whether the lease continues after death.

      Reply

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