5 reasons your DIY will may be invalid

People often contact us to ask whether a DIY will, such as the sort that you can buy off the shelf on the high street or online, or even prepare yourself with some online guidance, is actually legally binding and valid. The truth is that it very much depends on a number of factors.

The DIY wills we commonly see are what we would identify as a ‘rigid or ‘simple will’, as opposed to a ‘flexible will’. A rigid will does not give any flexibility to the Executor to deal with unforeseen scenarios at the time of making the will, whereas a flexible will gives the Executor overriding powers to deal with such situations by exercising their discretion.

The validity of a will depends on certain requirements being met, including that with the person making the will has adequate mental capacity to make it in the first place.

However, the question that should be asked is whether your DIY will, will actually achieve what you want it to.
DIY, rigid wills (as opposed to flexible wills) can cause many problems even if they are perfectly valid and appear relatively simple. We have identified just a few of the many potential issues of home-made and rigid wills as follows:

Here are 5 reasons a DIY will may be or become invalid:

  1. Your DIY will can quickly become outdated and may not be updated when needed
  2. DIY wills can produce wrong /unforeseen or problematic outcomes which cannot be easily remedied after death, if at all
  3. DIY wills give no opportunity for tax planning, often inconveniently lumping assets with a surviving spouse, and cannot keep up with changes in tax and local authority legislation
  4. DIY wills may offer your assets and chosen beneficiaries no protection from the contingencies of life, such as residential care, bankruptcy and divorce
  5. Without any built-in flexibility, there is no room for manoeuvre to avoid expensive and lengthy litigation in the face of a dispute

The first assumptions that are often made with wills is that we can predict when we will die or that your assets will end up where you intend them to without a will in place.

As a result, many DIY wills are prepared without taking into account the important factors which we are able to both raise and advise upon.

Planning for the cost of care
Increasingly, there is also widespread concern of the adverse impact that care costs and inheritance tax can have on the Estate. Wills can provide vast scope for Estate planning with these issues in mind, but expert and accurate advice is imperative.

Why choose to have your Will drawn up by a solicitor?
In most cases, our clients have not even considered some of the outcomes that we highlight when dealing with their instructions. For example, what happens if your intended beneficiaries or executors die before you? Is your will still valid if you get married after you have signed it? Can my executors also be guardians of my children?

A DIY will may cause more issues and heartache than it solves for those left behind. It is therefore always worth seeking professional advice as we are used to identifying the above potential problems, advising on potential solutions and also ensuring that your will is both valid and effective!

Get in touch
If you would like to discuss contesting a will, our friendly and experienced team at Penderlaw can help you.  Just call us on 01872 241408 or email us info@penderlaw.co.uk  and our team will guide you through the options available to you.