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With the cost of living increasing, it is not surprising that people want to save money where they can. When faced with the cost of preparing a Will, is ‘doing it yourself’ a clever way to save or is it likely to cost your beneficiaries more of their entitlement to put it right?

Preparing a Will allows you to decide what happens to your estate when you die. Your estate is made up of your money, property, personal possessions and anything else of value you may own. You may decide to leave your estate to family, friends or charities.

Many people make Wills to help minimise inheritance tax payable on their death as well as prepare for any costly care home fees in the future. If you have young children, then you can also state who would look after your children should you die before they reach 18.

If you don’t get the right advice at the time you prepare your Will, then you increase the risk of not leaving your estate to your chosen beneficiaries and may overlook planning for future care or saving inheritance tax. You may also end up with your children being looked after by someone you would not have chosen.

In order for a Will to be legally valid, you have to meet the following requirements

  • you must be 18 years or over
  • you must make the Will voluntarily
  • you must have the required mental capacity
  • it must be made in writing
  • it must be signed in the presence of two witnesses who are also over the age of 18
  • the two witnesses must sign their name in your presence.

From a legal perspective, if a DIY Will does not meet these minimum requirements, then the estate will be administered under the intestacy rules which set out a strict list of who inherits from your estate. It is likely that they will not be the people you would have chosen. It is often the case that any mistakes which have been made in a DIY Will are not discovered until that person dies and by then it’s too late.

From an emotional perspective, it is the family, friends and charities left behind who suffer the consequences of the ‘DIYer’ not taking the right advice where had it been sought, money may potentially have been saved in the long run and upset avoided.

Even in the most straightforward of cases, it is important to seek the right professional advice when preparing a Will to avoid unnecessary and avoidable mistakes and upset.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.