Homemade Will’s – what you need to know
It’s no secret that the cost of living is rising rapidly, and that means people have less money to invest in legal services. With that in mind, some are turning to homemade Wills in favour of professionally drafted ones, saving themselves the fees that are incurred. But is it really a safe option?
Why you need a valid Will
A Will is one of the most important documents you’ll ever sign. Not only does it carry legally recognised instructions for how you want to distribute your wealth upon your passing, it also brings peace of mind that should the worst happen unexpectedly, your family will be provided for. And if there are certain things you want to leave to certain people; you can make these specifications in the document.
As such, making a Will is not simply about writing down your wishes and signing the page; the Will must be valid for it to apply. In making a homemade Will, there’s a risk not only of the document not doing what you intend, but also that it could be completely invalid. As such, charitable causes or people you care about may not get anything.
What makes a Will invalid?
There are established and crucial rules regarding the signing of a Will, which are in place to protect those who both make a Will and those who are intended to benefit from it. For example, the witnesses must be independent; having your closest family members or friends witness the Will could result in them being disinherited entirely.
Another instance of a Will becoming invalid would be when it’s made before a marriage. Many people aren’t aware that when they get married their Will is automatically revoked. If a new one is not made, the rules of intestacy apply, which lets the state determine who should inherit. In most cases your spouse will inherit everything, meaning any children you had before the marriage would be left out completely.
Even if you get everything correct and prepare a valid homemade Will, without proper advice, there may be ambiguities that affect your beneficiaries. Not using the correct terminology could mean your wishes aren’t carried out, or you may also leave out clauses that state, for example, what should happen if your main beneficiary passes before you do.
What happens if your Will is invalid?
An ambiguous Will can lead to lengthy and expensive legal disputes between your family. This can result in the value of the estate dwindling away and the amount of inheritance being passed on being significantly decreased.
An invalid Will means that a previously valid Will would be used instead. If there is no previous Will, the rules of intestacy apply. Certain family members, such as unmarried partners and step-children aren’t recognised by these, meaning they’d be left out of any inheritance.
In conclusion, while you can make a homemade Will, the risks of doing so are extensive. It’s much wiser to seek the advice from a Kent accountant for probate services when it comes to drafting your Will, and consulting with Kent tax advisors regarding the rules around Inheritance Tax.