Is a homemade will a good DIY project? Lester Aldridge advises

Does a homemade Will make a good DIY project?

Sage New Forest advice from Lester Aldridge solicitors to help you decide for yourself!

Ed note: This month's "Life Matters" article by Lester Aldridge poses the question, and ably answers it! The article was written by Disputed Tax, Trusts and Wills Partner Victoria Jones.

You can always take advantage of a free consultation with Lester Aldridge, on any legal matter, at any time  - click here.

 Are ‘Homemade’ Wills a DIY Disaster?

couple with child on hill top flying kiteThe Covid-19 pandemic prompted a surge in the popularity of “DIY’ projects. From home baking and gardening to more ambitious home renovations, many people learned ‘How to..’ instead of buying items or services. That is not surprising, given the amount of time that people spent at home in 2020/21, the lockdown restrictions, and also the impact of the pandemic upon personal finances.

But, not every DIY project is successful, and some can even have serious consequences. 

One area where things can go badly wrong is DIY wills. Badly drafted or invalid wills can cause stress to beneficiaries of an estate, strain family relationships, prompt legal claims, and incur costs. They can also mean that the wishes of the person making the will may not be carried out.

Should I make a DIY will?

Everyone’s circumstances are different and, whilst DIY wills might work for some people, they don’t work for everyone. For example, someone with complex family dynamics or assets may need specialist legal advice.

There is no obligation to use a solicitor or legal executive to prepare your will, and you may be able to make a valid will yourself. However, every year wills are declared invalid or challenged because they are ineffective, poorly drafted, or have not been signed correctly. 

It is also important to remember that will writing is completely unregulated in England and Wales. This means that the quality of will services and products varies greatly, and you might not have any recourse if you either make a will yourself or use some DIY will products/services and things later go wrong.

This doesn’t mean that you have to spend huge sums on making a will, rather consider whether a homemade will or DIY will product or service is the best option for you. 

Also, consider exactly what you will be getting for your money. In some cases, the costs of a ‘basic’ DIY will product may appear to be a bargain, but there may also be other costs to consider e.g. using a DIY will product provider to store a will or administer an estate. 

And, what instructions will you receive? There is nothing worse than trying to follow DIY instructions which are vague or, even worse, when you buy a DIY product that come with no instructions at all.

Points to consider

There are lots of ways to make a will and the best option will depend upon your circumstances. However, it is worthwhile researching these and deciding what method is best for you. Below are some points to consider:

  • It is worthwhile investing in the will-making process and comparing the costs of making a will against the value of your estate and the importance of what a will does. A will needs to effectively deal with your lifetime’s worth of assets. It may also have to include funeral wishes, make gifts to charities, or confirm who will look after any minor children.
  • Wills can be challenged and parts (or all) of a will can be declared invalid if the will is poorly drafted. This can leave executors with a headache and it can also mean that intended beneficiaries might not receive estate assets.
  • The costs and time involved in resolving will disputes or claims against estates can be substantial.
  • Claims involving estates can affect family relationships. For example, a dispute between siblings about their parent’s will.
  • Check terms and conditions – are the total costs involved transparent and acceptable?
  • Do you need estate planning advice - to identify and (if possible), try to reduce any risks or future tax liabilities of the estate?
  • Don’t only rely on reviews. If possible, also seek recommendations from trusted sources.
  • Check what recourse your executors and beneficiaries will have if things go wrong. For example, solicitors are regulated and are insured.
  • Consider whether you also need to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). Many people make a will and LPA at the same time (though you do not have to do so). This document can ensure that you receive the right support in the future, should your health deteriorate, when making financial or health and welfare decisions.

Don't die intestate! It makes things so much harder for your beneficiaries

Lester Aldridge Partner Victoria JonesWill making is important because, if you die intestate (without a will) legislation will decide how your estate will be distributed. Intestacy does not make any financial provision for cohabiting partners or friends.  However, it is also important that, when you make a will, it is valid and effective and reflects what you want to happen to your estate.

This article was written by Disputed Tax, Trusts and Wills Partner Victoria Jones.

Our Disputed Wills Team provides specialist advice about will and estate disputes. You can contact our Disputed Wills Solicitors on 01202 786152, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Free consultation with an experienced solicitor, on any legal matter 

Lester Aldridge Solicitors are based in London, Southampton and Bournemouth - where the office covering the New Forest is situated conveniently close to the main Bournemouth train station. Their specialist teams in the various fields of law will be happy to advise and assist you, starting with a completely free initial consultation during which you can decide whether you feel able to trust them with your confidential information. Consultations are also available via virtual meetings : advice is available through phone, email, Skype and Zoom.

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