Everyone likes a bargain and buying a homemade will pack from a High Street shop or from the internet appears a cheap alternative to going to see a solicitor, especially as the perceived costs of making a will with a solicitor are usually far higher than the actual cost.

Some people assume the making of a will is a simple procedure and as such they begrudge paying a solicitor for the service. In theory making a will is simple. As long as the rules set out in the Wills Act 1837 are followed and the person making the will has sufficient mental capacity to do so and is not acting under undue influence then the will is valid. The difficulty is that it is very simple to make an error when making a homemade will so as to breach the rules of the Wills Act or alternatively to make it much simpler for there to be a challenge to the will.

Common mistakes in homemade wills which make them invalid are only one witness signing the will or maybe two witnesses have signed the will but they were not all present at the same time or the will has not been signed in the correct place by the Testator.

Often a homemade will can be valid but may not have had the consequences intended by the Testator. Common examples are a witness being a beneficiary in the will and by witnessing the will excluding themselves from an entitlement. Also vague and ambiguous clauses can result in uncertainty over the gift and the gift failing. It is also quite common for homemade wills to fail to cover possible consequences such as the beneficiaries dying before the Testator, or failing to deal with the whole estate which results in a partial intestacy.

In addition to difficulties with the validity or the actual meaning of the will homemade wills are also more open to challenge than those that have been professional drawn. Will dispute cases have risen substantially in the last few years and with homemade wills a disgruntled family member has a greater chance to claim that the will is invalid due to undue influence by another person, lack of testamentary capacity by the Testator or fraud.

Litigation involving wills are notoriously expensive with the costs to each party usually running in to the tens of thousands of pounds. While a homemade will pack may sound like a cheap alternative, to seeking professional assistance, the risk of getting things wrong or a challenge to its validity could mean that the true cost of the homemade will runs in to many thousands of pounds.

Should you wish to discuss making a will please contact our offices in order to arrange an appointment.

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