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When considering making a Will you might think that it is better to do it yourself, as it is cheaper than engaging a professional and there are enough resources online to guide you. However, our advice would be that you do engage a professional to make your Will the risk of doing it incorrectly outweighs the benefit of saving the solicitor’s fee. A poorly drafted Will could be invalid or lead to expensive litigation, if challenged, or result in undesired distribution results.
If you write your own Will, what is called a ‘homemade Will’ it will be legally binding and valid if signed and witnessed correctly. However, if you do not have a legal professional to assist you signing and witnessing it could be incorrectly done and therefore rendering the Will invalid. Homemade Wills are often poorly written and ambiguous. Using the wrong wording could mean that your instructions will not be followed, and could even mean that your Will is totally invalid.
If the Will is invalid the Intestacy Rules may apply if there is not a previous Will in place. The intestacy rules ensure that specific blood relatives share the estate, but the proportions are fixed and therefore often unsuitable. There are no rights for cohabitees, friends or charities who could have benefited from the estate of the deceased if the person had made a Will. When the only blood relatives are too distant in relation (for instance, second cousins) the estate of the deceased will pass on to the Crown (Bona Vacantia).
Drafting a will is complicated but with the specialist skill and knowledge of a solicitor you can ensure that your wishes are fulfilled and that the people you wish to benefit from your estate receive the assets. If your financial situation is a bit more complex, for instance you own property abroad, have foreign investments or bank accounts, you own a business or you are considering reducing your Inheritance Tax liability, the need to engage a legal professional to make a Will is greater.
When looking for a qualified professional you might like to consider engaging a member of STEP.
STEP is a global professional body, comprising of lawyers, accountants, financial advisors and other practitioners that help families plan for their futures. STEP sets standards, train and educate our members, and ensure standards are upheld.
Full STEP members, known as TEPs (Trust and Estate Practitioners), are experts in inheritance and succession planning. STEP members help families plan for their futures, from drafting a will to advising on issues concerning international families, protection of the vulnerable, family businesses and philanthropic giving. Full STEP members, known as TEPs, are internationally recognised as experts in their field, with proven qualifications and experience.
Engaging a Trust and Estate Practitioner will ensure that your affairs are dealt with expertise, integrity and specialist knowledge.