What You Should Know About Leaving a DIY Will
Many people think that it’s enough to write their wishes down on a signed piece of paper and use it as their Will. But sadly, this often means that your final wishes aren’t carried out exactly as you wanted them to be.
While a DIY Will may seem cheaper and easier now, getting a Wills and Trusts Solicitor to help you draft your Will might be priceless when you die.
Getting help from a Wills and Trusts Solicitor means you won’t miss anything out of your Will and we can make sure it’s error-free and up to date. Call us to make your Will today.
Our Contentious Probate Lawyers are well experienced in helping people whose loved ones have passed away and their DIY Will didn’t outline their full wishes. Sadly, we see far too many cases where people are having to contest a Will while grieving at the same time.
Here’s just one example of a woman who recently made the news because she had to challenge her father’s DIY Will after almost inheriting nothing at all:
Daughter Challenges Late Father’s DIY Will
After losing her father, William Tibbles in 2018, Terri Tibbles was expecting to inherit his Estate. But she was shocked to find out that a second Will had been found just three days after his death, leaving everything to her identical twin Kelly and her other siblings, Susan, Cindy and Paul.
In the first Will, made in 2017, William had included a Letter of Wishes, which stated his intention to leave everything to Terri. This was because his other daughters had been a ‘disappointment’ to him, and his son Paul was already financially secure.
But in the second Will, William appeared to have made a U-turn, leaving everything to Kelly, Susan, Cindy and Paul, and disinheriting Terri entirely.
According to Terri, the ‘DIY Will’, which was written on a “sheet of paper…torn from a notebook,” could have been signed by anybody. She decided to contest the Will and bring a claim.
Paul, who had been named as the Executor in his father’s second Will, argued that his sisters, Susan, Kelly and Cindy had looked after their father in his last few months of life. Paul said his father “wished his Estate to be shared equally” between himself, Susan, Kelly and Cindy.
But Terri pointed out that this last minute DIY Will was “totally uncharacteristic” of her father who had a “long history of previous dealings with solicitors.”
In the High Court in London, Judge Matthew Marsh concluded that the Will was invalid. He told the Court, “There’s no evidence placed before me about who wrote the Will and whether it was written at Mr Tibbles’ dictation, who was present when that occurred and what his state of mind was at the time. There’s no real explanation for his change of mind and no evidence about him signing it.”
Thankfully, Terri ended up inheriting the full £300,000 Estate. But this isn’t always the outcome of contesting a Will.
What are the Risks of a DIY Will?
While a DIY Will can seem like a cheaper and quicker option, making a Will without the help of a Solicitor can increase the risk of it being contested in the future if it can be proven that the Will is invalid.
And it’s cases like Terri’s that highlight the importance of having a valid Will in place before you die. Our Contentious Probate Lawyers have seen many cases where makeshift Wills have caused disputes between family members, on the basis that they’re not valid.
What Makes a Will Invalid?
In England and Wales, a Will might be invalid if:
- Someone lacked Testamentary Capacity at the time of making their Will (their ability and mental capacity to understand the nature of what it is they’re doing)
- The person making the Will was put under undue influence i.e. coerced or forced by family members into writing or amending a Will that benefits them
- It wasn’t witnessed correctly – A Will needs to be signed and witnessed in the presence of two eligible witnesses to be legally valid
- It’s not in writing – Even if someone verbally tells a family member their wishes they still need to have a valid written Will for their wishes to be carried out
Can I Contest a Second Will?
You can contest a new Will if you can prove that it’s invalid for any of the above reasons. This can be tricky as you’ll have to talk to witnesses of the Will, doctors, medical experts, and people who knew the person who died, for evidence of their testamentary capacity.
Contesting a Will can get complicated and even if you think you’ve got strong grounds for contesting, you could still end up being unsuccessful.
This is where the expertise of a Contentious Probate Lawyer comes in handy. We can also offer a full assessment of your case and let you know if we think you’ve got strong grounds for contesting a Will.
We understand that the thought of contesting a Will might feel daunting and stressful, especially if it’s causing disputes with family members. Our Contentious Probate Lawyers can take this pressure off your shoulders by handling everything from start to finish, from gathering evidence around the making of the Will, to dealing with family members on your behalf.
Get in touch today to see how we can help you.
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Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Billingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Catterick, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.