Everybody knows the importance of having a Will, as this is something that is often highlighted to us, but what isn’t often mentioned is the importance of making sure that Will is properly written and therefore legally binding.
Yet, a Will written incorrectly, or not properly witnessed, could be equal to not having written a Will at all, leaving your loved ones with a legacy of taxes, paperwork and legal bills.
So, what constitutes an incorrectly written Will? There are various details that could invalidate a Will or cause undue additional problems; from something as simple as spelling someone’s name incorrectly and not using their legal name, to a Will whereby the specific wording fails to meet requirements. Whilst you would assume that if you went to a high street solicitor or even purchased a Will writing kit online the wording would be correct, you could be wrong.
“I only have a small inheritance to leave, so will be fine to do my own DIY Will” – often people think this is the case, until they speak to a professional and discover important truths, that there are more complexities and aspects to their estate than they first thought. Not only is there the issue of what you own and choose to leave to your loved ones, but how do you factor in if someone in your Will dies, divorces, re-marries, has more children, step-children…the list goes on.
Re-marriage is just one example of where things can get complicated – if you leave everything to your spouse and their Will states that they then pass everything on to your/their children equally after their death, you might assume that would mean that your spouse and children are looked after? This assumption is where problems can and do exist within inadequately written Wills.
Take this example:
Jennifer’s father dies, after he dies his estate is passed to his wife Barbara (Jennifer’s stepmother), Barbara had written a mirror Will of her husband’s stating that the estate would be passed equally between Jennifer and her own son. However, after the death of Jennifer’s father Barbara remarried, changed her Will and left everything to her son and new step children and nothing to Jennifer. This is perfectly legal, but morally was it the right thing to do and would Jennifer’s father have approved?
By using a legal professional that isn’t necessarily an expert in the field of Will writing, or using a DIY Will Writing Kit, you run the risk of having an invalidated Will, and not just this, even if your Will is perfectly valid, it does not mean you have received the best advice and strategy possible regarding your desired outcomes for you and your loved ones in the future.