A will is a legally binding document which tells everyone what should happen to your money, possessions and property – collectively referred to as your ‘estate’ – after you die. As well as naming your beneficiaries (the people who benefit from your will), a will appoints executors – the people who look after the financial process after your death. Importantly, if you do not leave a will, on your death your estate will be shared out in a standard way defined by law (the ‘law of intestacy’) – which might not be in line with what you would had wanted.
There are a number of different ways to get a will, but the protections you have if something goes wrong can vary hugely, depending on who writes it.
In essence: can you write your own will? Yes…. Should you write your own will? No! Read on to find out why.
It is possible to write your own will, but it is extremely risky to do so.
The requirements for making a valid will are very strict and easy to get wrong. Even the simplest mistake can make a will invalid. We often hear about homemade wills which fail for simple reasons which could have been avoided if legal advice had been taken.
The cost saving of preparing a homemade will rarely justify the risks.
Often homemade wills do not include wording to deal with a person’s estate in full, leaving a ‘partial intestacy’. This results in the introduction of different beneficiaries (who may not be who you would have chosen) and increased costs of administration. Sorting out the situation after the event can result in significant expense and stress for your loved ones.
Will- writing services
Another alternative is a will writing service; however, Will writers do not have to have any formal qualifications. They are also not subject to the same strict regulations as solicitors and do not have to have the same insurance in place if something goes wrong. For example, if a Will writing firm goes into liquidation it can be very difficult to find out where your will is!
Some will writers leave you to sign your own will. At Field Overell we will offer to witness your will and store it for you free of charge. The formalities for signing a will are strict and it is easy to go wrong. Will writers also might not be able to store your will securely or charge a fee for doing so.
It is important to have confidence that your will is properly drafted. Using a Solicitor helps you to have peace of mind that your will has been drafted correctly and does exactly what you want it to.
At Field Overell we will also want to understand your background and family situation to make sure that the will that is drafted for you doesn’t have any unforeseen negative implications. We can also advise you on the best ways to protect your loved ones, for example if a family member is going through a divorce.
If a mistake is made, you’re much better off if you have used a Solicitor. Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in England & Wales. If you have any problems, you can make a complaint to the solicitor’s firm, and if your complaint is not resolved, you can go to the free Legal Ombudsman service for redress (this body was set up to ensure complaints about legal service providers are dealt with in a fair and independent way). Solicitors are also required to have indemnity insurance in place for when things go wrong (so that even if the firm can’t pay, the insurers should do).
A will drafted by a solicitor should give you peace of mind, especially if your affairs are complex. Also, by signing your will at a solicitor’s office there is a presumption that the formalities have been complied with. Usually as part of their service, solicitors will also offer to store your will securely for you for no extra charge.
If you wish you speak to one of our specialise lawyers about making a will or updating your current will please contact us on 01926 422 101 or 02476 229 582.