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Dangers of a Homemade Will – Are They Worth the Risk?

One of the most common things I hear as a Private Client Solicitor when discussing a client’s affairs is “Why should I use a Solicitor to make a Will?” Many people try to avoid instructing a solicitor to prepare a Will to save on costs and attempt to make a homemade Will. This may be by either writing one or picking up a “DIY” pack at their local shop or from the internet. These cheaper options may seem more attractive but can be a very risky option.

People often think that Wills are simple and straightforward but there are strict and complex rules that apply to the validity of Wills. Solicitors are trained to understand these rules and know how they apply. More often than not errors are made in homemade Wills and mistakes can lead to a Will being invalid. If a Will is deemed invalid the estate could be distributed under the terms of a previously made Will or under the rules of intestacy (whereby the person is deemed to have died without a Will). This could ultimately mean your estate does not pass to those you intended it to. Errors in homemade Wills often lead to emotional stress and a financial mess for your family. The costs for your family in trying to rectify matters certainly outweigh the costs you thought you were saving by making a Will yourself!

The case of Tracey Leaning deceased is one of the many ongoing cases highlighting the risks of homemade Wills. In this case the deceased had made a Will in 2007 leaving her entire estate to a number of charities. After meeting her partner, Richard Guest, Tracey Leaning prepared a new, hand-written, homemade Will in 2014 leaving her estate to Richard. The charities named as beneficiaries in the deceased’s 2007 Will are currently challenging the validity of the 2014 Will. As this case is still ongoing, it remains to be seen whether the charities will be successful. According to reports, Richard Guest has already spent over £10,000 in legal fees, just demonstrating the stress and financial hardship these matters can put a family through.

Why run the risk of a Will being invalid? A Will is one of the most important arrangements a person will make during their lifetime. A Will ensures that your estate passes to the person/persons you want it to go to. By instructing a solicitor to prepare your Will, you can be rest assured that your Will is correctly prepared and executed.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss preparing a Will further, either me or another member of our Private Client team would be happy to assist. Please call us on 01429 235616 or email cdonworth@tmjlegal.co.uk

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