With recent research suggesting that half of the British public don’t have a Will, there is no doubt that many of us need to consider formally writing down our wishes on how our estate will be dealt with upon our death. However, it is important to remember that while a cheap DIY kit or some scribbled notes could be legally binding, a Will that isn’t professionally drafted substantially increases the chances of it causing problems after your death.
In 1993, Princess Diana wrote a ‘letter of wishes’ requesting that her estate be divided differently than specified in her Will, requesting that her 17 godchildren receive a portion of her estate. However, after her divorce, the value of her personal estate rocketed but she never updated her Will, meaning that there was no legal responsibility to carry out the requests mentioned in the letter.
It costs around £200 to make a Will. Yet even though there could potentially be great sums at stake, there are some who will try and cut corners and not do it properly. Nick Hill, an expert with the Money Advice Service states; “You could scribble your will on a piece of scrap paper, and as long as it was properly signed and witnessed it should be legally binding. However that doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. Using the wrong wording could mean that your instructions aren’t followed, or are done incorrectly.”
With family relationships becoming increasingly complex due to the impact of divorce, step or adopted children and second wives, it is vitally important to seek professional help.