Everything you should know about DIY wills

By Sarah Hughes, Staff Writer.

Templates for DIY wills are easy to find but it’s not always the best option to write one on your own. In theory, you could scribble your wishes on a piece of scrap paper and as long as its signed and witnessed correctly, it should be legally binding. This doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

 

Most wills follow the same general rules for what you say and how you word it. These standards are tried and tested and remove any confusion about what you mean. Using the wrong wording could mean that your instructions are not followed, or even that your will is not valid.

 

So, it’s an excellent idea to use a template that provides the standard sections and legal terms for you to follow.

 

In general, you should only write your own will if your wishes are very simple and don’t require external advice or support. For example, if you’re married and want to leave everything to your partner; or if your partner has passed on, you want to leave your whole estate to your children. If you have stepchildren or aren’t married to your partner, it is recommended that you use a lawyer or a will writing service.

 

Instances in which you should not write your own will:

  • If you own property overseas or abroad

  • There is a need to try and reduce tax payable

  • You have money in foreign bank accounts or overseas investments

  • If you are a business owner and are leaving the business to someone as part of your will

  • You have people – other than your immediate family – who are financially dependent on you

  • You have wishes that may be misunderstood or are slightly more complex

 

The risks of a DIY will:

Only write up a DIY will if your financial situation isn’t complicated and if you have very simple wishes. You might save money as compared to using a professional service, but if you get any details wrong you could be causing trouble for your loved ones when it comes to sorting out your estate after your passing.

 

Also remember that if you use a will template, the company who supplied it will not take responsibility if your will is correctly written. If you make mistakes which cause problems once your will is read, there won’t be any legal comeback. It could even mean that your will is invalid, and the law then decides who your estate should go to.

 

If you decide to DIY:

Make absolutely sure that you have covered the following main points:

  • Ensure the will is signed, dated and witnessed appropriately and correctly.

  • Check your spelling carefully – especially with peoples' names.

  • Be incredibly detailed in your language. For example, don’t just say ‘my husband’ or ‘my wife’, use their full name.

  • Destroy and revoke any old wills. If you already have one, make sure to destroy it and clearly state that the new one revokes the previous will.

  • Inform your executor where the document will be stored as they will need to know this information when you die.

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