The internet has made it easier than it’s ever been for people to access legal services. Over the last decade, accessing legal documents has seen a growth amongst online users.
There are many dangers and pitfalls with using such online downloadable templates. However, these issues don’t always stop people who are looking for the cheapest option even if it means they won’t get all their legal needs covered.
This leads us to highlighting the dangers and limitations of using DIY wills of which one must be aware. Nowadays anyone can download the same wills for as little as £20 on numerous sites. Their cheap price and ease of access makes them a popular choice for many people.
However, using a DIY will is likely to end up costing you in the long-term because they can be easily challenged in court. These wills often don’t address specific issues or assets and are just plain ineffective in general.
In this blog post, we’re going to address the biggest problems that can occur when using DIY wills and how you can fix them.
They Often Don’t Adequately Protect A Person’s Estate
The biggest problem with DIY wills is that they don’t adequately protect a person’s estate. They are what is known as a ‘Mirror Will.’ A Mirror Will simply leaves everything to your partner and vice versa.
Therefore, no thought is given to a number of particular scenarios. For example, individual circumstances like leaving different parts of the estate to various family members such as children or any other complexities that can arise in life. This lack of protection matters is of concern if and when you need care later on in life. With a DIY will, your assets will be means tested by the Local Authority to help pay for these care costs. A DIY will does not consider these care cost fees.
The way you can fix this is by having your will written so that it doesn’t simply leave everything to a partner or spouse. Have a will written so that it leaves half the estate to your children or someone else. If you do this and your partner needs care later on in life after you die, your partner will only be means tested on half of your estate. The other half will be safe from care cost fees.
They Are Often Invalid Because Of Will Execution And Changes In Circumstances
Another huge problem with DIY wills is how they’re executed. The problem ranges from not getting the required signatures to clerical errors or even getting the will witnessed properly.
Then there is the issue of circumstances changing. Many people do not realise that their will becomes revoked if they get married or that a divorce does not automatically revoke a will. In fact, in cases of a divorce, the divorced spouse is treated as if they died, which often leads to many unforeseen consequences.
In many cases, a DIY doesn’t protect you when your circumstances change because of their one-size fits all approach. This approach simply doesn’t take into account each person’s unique circumstances.
They Don’t Take Into Account Complexities Involved With Domestic And Foreign Assets
There are many complex scenarios that DIY wills won’t cover. One common scenario involves foreign and UK assets. In this scenario, you’ll need two separate wills created; one dealing with UK based assets and the other dealing with foreign assets.
You’ll need to create a will in the UK that addresses the UK assets. Then you’ll need to get a will created in the foreign country where you have the foreign assets. However, the real kicker here is that in many cases the foreign will actually revokes the first will that was created for your UK assets. The only way this doesn’t occur, is if the second will addressing your foreign assets specifically states that it doesn’t revoke the first will.
Wills and the laws regarding wills varies according to each country. Often foreign laws on wills, (depending on the country) actually take precedence over UK laws regarding wills.
This can be an extremely tricky situation to address. This won’t be addressed adequately in a DIY will, and often requires joint support from the lawyers of both countries in charge of creating each will.
They Don’t Consider Inheritance Tax
Inheritance tax is an area rarely addressed in DIY wills. Every person in the UK is entitled to the Nil Rate Band, which is a £325,000 allowance. Because DIY wills leave everything to your partner, your partner will automatically inherit your unused allowance when you die. This may sound great at first glance, but the reality is this actually puts your partner at risk for care fees and there will be nothing they can do about it.
Final Words: Avoid The Dangers Of Using DIY Wills
As you can see, there are many pitfalls with using DIY wills as we’ve elucidated in this post. The best thing to do is always seek legal advice first and make sure your will is drafted by a professional that specialises in this area. This is the only way to guarantee you’ll get a legally valid will that avoids many of the problems mentioned in this post.
If you’d like a range of free quotes from fully qualified lawyers that specialise in drafting wills, get in touch with us today so that we may help you.