Risks of a DIY Will in Scotland
Over half of UK adults do not have a current Will in place despite it being the only way to guarantee your money and assets go to your loved ones after you die. Whether people believe they are too young, assume their spouse will automatically inherit everything, or it is too expensive to make one, there are continuously reasons and excuses appearing for not having a valid Will.
Nowadays, a popular opinion to cut costs is to prepare a Will on your own, however, many fail to realise the potential pitfalls that can arise as a consequence of using a DIY Will package.
Having a qualified solicitor prepare your Will means you are protected if something goes wrong, that you can be confident there are no mistakes, and knowing that your Will is stored in a safe place. If you are looking to write a Will, it is always recommended to get professional legal assistance. Speak with a member of Davidson & Shirley’s estate planning team today to see how we can help you.
How do I make sure my Will is Valid?
Your Will is valid as long as a series of basic requirements are met. The Will must be:
- made by someone who is at least 12 years old;
- made voluntarily and without another person pressuring them to do so;
- created by a person who has the capacity to do so – this means they must fully understand the nature of the document they are signing, the property referred to in the Will, and the identity of the beneficiaries;
- in writing;
- signed by the person on every page; and,
- signed in front of a witness.
If your wishes are relatively simple – for example, if you are married or in a civil partnership and you wish to leave everything to your spouse or partner – then a DIY Will may seem like the most feasible option for you. However, any complexities to your circumstances can lead to serious problems when writing a Will on your own. DIY Will packs tend to contain only basic instructions, putting the person making the Will at risk of leaving out crucial information. The law covering Wills is also different in Scotland and England, so this can create issues if the appropriate rules are not followed when preparing your DIY Will.
The Dangers of Making a DIY Will
If you are not married, or if you own a business or assets overseas, preparing your own Will is extremely risky. Depending on the extent of your estate, there can also be important implications for IHT, which can be significantly reduced by making careful plans in your Will. If you have young or vulnerable beneficiaries listed, having them inherit large sums can also be problematic. Many people use their Will to put plans in place for their family members, but this will require the support of specialist Wills solicitor.
The common issues with DIY Wills occur as a result of the document being incorrectly witnessed and signed. If mistakes are made here, your Will becomes automatically invalid, and your estate will be distributed in line with intestacy rules, meaning your wishes would be ignored. All of this can be extremely stressful for those you have left behind, causing additional emotional and financial strain at a time when they should be left to grieve.
Having a Will in place is one of the most important things you can do for your estate, so it is always worth doing correctly and with the assistance of a regulated lawyer. To ensure your loved ones are taken care of, and that your estate is distributed according to your wishes, get in touch with our estate planning team today.
Contact Davidson & Shirley Wills Solicitors in Lanark, Motherwell & Wishaw, Scotland
Our expert Wills solicitors can draft your Will and ensure that all requirements are satisfied, as well as providing specialist advice on reducing your liability for Inheritance Tax. Call us today on 01555 709644 or fill out our online enquiry form.