Writing your will – Why you should seek professional advice - Palmers Solicitors

Writing your will – Why you should seek professional advice

Writing your will – Why you should seek professional advice

Drafting a will is an important process that must be done correctly. It determines what happens to your estate, including your money and property, after your death. 

Helen Jago, one of our Private Client Supervising Directors, considers why writing your own will – also known as a DIY will – may not be in your best interest, and why consulting an experienced solicitor will provide you with peace of mind.  

Navigating the legal nuances 

Your solicitor will guide you through the legal formalities that you need to follow in order for your will to be valid. For example, you must: 

  • Be over 18 years of age 
  • Be of sound mind 
  • Write your will voluntarily 
  • Set your wishes down in writing 
  • Sign it in the presence of two adult witnesses 
  • Have your will signed by two adult witnesses who are not beneficiaries or the spouses of your beneficiaries, in your presence. 
  • The correct order for signatures must be followed. 
  • It is advisable to have an appropriate attestation clause confirming the above steps have been followed. 

If your will is technically invalid, the law dictates what happens to your estate after your death.  Either the intestacy provisions will apply or possibly an earlier outdated Will, will still be valid.   

Clarity and Precision:  

The language used in your will must be clear and precise. Vague or ambiguous phrasing can lead to disputes, which might require court intervention to resolve.  For example: “I leave a sum of money to “my family” to sort out”. 

A solicitor can help you articulate your wishes in a way that is unambiguous, reducing the risk of misinterpretation, and ensuring that your will is executed according to your wishes. 

Complex family situations:  

Not all family situations are straightforward. If you have children from multiple relationships, are estranged from a spouse or child, or you live in a blended family, you may find writing your own will challenging.  

A solicitor can help navigate these intricacies, ensuring that your will truly reflects your wishes, and all potential complications are considered. 

Protecting vulnerable beneficiaries:  

If you intend to leave assets to a vulnerable individual – for example, your child under the age of 18 or a beneficiary with a disability – special provisions may be needed to ensure their best interests are met.  

Trusts can be set up to protect their inheritance, and a solicitor can advise on the most suitable arrangement. 

Addressing all assets:  

You may have assets that aren’t immediately obvious – digital assets, overseas properties, or specific investments, for example.  

A solicitor can help ensure that all assets are considered. 

Mitigating tax implications:  

Inheritance tax can significantly impact the amount your beneficiaries receive.  

By consulting a solicitor, you can discuss potential tax planning strategies, ensuring that your loved ones receive the maximum benefit from your estate. 

Regular Updates and Reviews:  

If your circumstances change, you will need to update your will. Lots of things can impact your existing will, including marriages, births and deaths. These changes may affect how you wish your assets to be distributed. 

Regularly reviewing your will with a solicitor ensures that it remains up to date with your current situation and wishes. 

Storage and Accessibility:  

Solicitors often offer secure storage solutions for wills, ensuring they’re safe yet accessible when needed. This means that your will can be easily found and actioned upon your death. 

Why DIY can be risky 

Many people choose to write their will themselves using a will-writing kit or service. However, without professional guidance, there’s a significant risk of omitting crucial details or making errors.  

Such mistakes can lead to your will being contested or deemed invalid. It may also leave out some of your assets or result in your assets being distributed incorrectly.  

Seeking professional advice 

The intricacies of drafting a legally sound, comprehensive will require expertise.  

Consulting a solicitor should ensure the legal validity of your will and also provide peace of mind, knowing that your assets will be distributed as intended and your loved ones protected.  

When considering such a significant document, professional guidance is invaluable. 

For advice on how to write your will, please contact our expert team of solicitors.