Writing your own will is, in essence, easy. As long as you have it signed by two adult independent witnesses, you could jot it down on a napkin and it would be legally binding. But that does not necessarily mean that this is the right way to go.
Writing your own will might seem like a good idea, and an excellent way to save money, but it also has a lot of risk to it, that may make you rethink your choice.
What could go Wrong?
Your first risk is with wording. You may know exactly what it is that you want to say, but if it is not 100% clear to those reading it, then your instructions may not be followed. This can even result in your will being deemed as invalid.
You can counter-act this to an extent by researching the language used in the writing of wills. You can also buy will templates. But that does not alleviate all of the risks you face.
The company that supplies you the template has no responsibility over your will, so if it is incorrect, there is no legal action that can be taken.
A DIY will may save you money in the short term, but you have to decide if it is worth the risk before embarking on this route.
Is it ever Right to Write your Own Will?
There are situations when writing your own will could be a good idea, but this is only true if your will is very simple in every way.
Basically, a DIY will would be made if there are two simple steps to your will:
- You want to leave everything to your legal spouse
- If they die before you, then you want everything to go to your children
If any part of your will is going to be more complicated, or work outside of these two simple steps, then a DIY will is almost definitely not the right choice.
Using Professionals is the Safe Option
If you own property abroad, or a business that you are leaving to someone as part of your will. If you have others who are reliant on you financially, if you want to leave money or assets to a wide range of people, or if there is anything in your will that could be misunderstood if worded even slightly incorrectly, then there really is no substitute for expert advice.
But the experts are not only there to sort your will for you, you can also seek advice from online materials and companies who may be able to help you navigate the minefield that can be created by the decision to write your own will.
But even with this advice, the risks are not completely removed from the situation. There are some situations in this world, in which a little extra expense is definitely the right choice, and your will is a prime example of this. If you want to ensure that all of your wishes are followed after you are gone, then you really should use professional services.
Peter Collins is a director at LFC Risk and Insurance, who provide individuals and businesses with insurance and risk management advice, including executor insurance cover for wills.