Whilst often not particularly costly, getting a will drafted by a legal professional will definitely cost more than doing it yourself. If you want to save money, you might be tempted by the idea of using a will kit. But there’s a reason that most people opt to hire a legal service provider.
What are the disadvantages of writing your own will?
Writing your own will carries a number of risks:
- Although you might save money initially, you might unknowingly make organising your finances harder for your family after you’ve passed away. Additional fees resulting from unclear wills can cut up to 10% from the value of a person’s estate – so DIY wills are definitely not always the cheaper option in the long run.
- There is the possibility of your wishes not being clear enough. There tend to be standard ways of stating requests in wills, and even though the language might seem strange to you, it’s much easier to understand when your will is read following your death. Some templates may come with this wording and terminology, but some may not. There has to be absolutely no doubt about who you want your assets to go to. If your wishes are not clear they might not be met, meaning your family is likely to lose out.
- If there are question marks above any of your wishes, there’s greater potential for it to be contested. This may make things trickier for any of your beneficiaries (anyone who is being left anything in your will) and your executor(s), both financially and emotionally.
- If your will is not made correctly, the company that supplied the template is not liable – in fact, legally, there’s very little anyone can do if there are problems with it.
- If your will has any major errors in it then it could be completely invalid, which might create serious problems for your loved ones if they were relying on your inheritance.
You should definitely seek professional advice to write your will if:
- You own property abroad
- You want to reduce the amount of inheritance tax your beneficiaries will pay
- You have foreign investments or bank accounts
- You own a business that is being passed on to a beneficiary in your will
- You have people who are financially dependent on you (who are not immediate family members)
- Your wishes are complex and might be misunderstood
Whilst having a legal professional write your will does come at a cost, many people find the added expense is worth it for the peace of mind. And depending on the simplicity of your will, it could be as little as £150.
When can you write your own will?
If your wishes are very simple – essentially, if you’re married and everything is going to your spouse (or children if your spouse passes away before you) – then writing your own will could be an option. But if there’s anything more complicated than that – for example, if you and your partner are not married, or if you have step-children or children from a previous relationship – it’s advised that you seek legal advice instead of trying to write your will yourself.
If you know your will is incredibly simple and you’d like to write it yourself, remember:
- The will must be signed, dated and witnessed correctly. Some of the most common mistakes with DIY wills are to do with the document itself, such as not getting it witnessed correctly.
- Your spelling must be correct, especially with people’s names.
- Be specific about everything. For example, never refer to your spouse as ‘my wife/husband’ or your offspring as ‘my children’ – always use their full names.
- If you update your will, be sure to destroy any old copies and clearly state on the new copy that this is the one you want to be followed.
- Ensure your executor(s) know where the will is kept.
If you’re looking to cut the cost of writing a will without the risk or confusion of doing it yourself, compare prices for different will writers and solicitors in your area. You’ll know you’re getting a great deal and that your will is being taken care of by a legal professional, ensuring your wishes will be carried out when the time comes.