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DIY or DIE? Don't Risk It With Your Will

Why to trust a professional when it comes to your estate.

I spent my formative years dipping in and out of both moshpits and creative spaces on the Internet. The Do It Yourself ethos followed bands from punk’s early beginnings, to independent labels springing up in the 90s, right through to the underground scene putting on shows and putting out zines today, and it’s something I’ve loved since a friend first recommended a Minor Threat EP to me. The internet only made it easier to pick up new skills - most of them seemed to involve starting with a t shirt and ending up with something else - and I spent ages with friends dreaming up new projects to try.

Still, none of us fancied DIY-ing our wills, and new data suggests we were probably right to leave that to the experts. Inheritance disputes reaching the High Court have seen a major increase over the last year, and there has been speculation that this is due to the popularity of DIY wills.

At the heart of it, a will is simply a document that someone makes setting out what they would like to happen to their property and belongings after they die. On the face of it, it seems like a very simple exercise - simply draw up a list of what you own and who it’s going to end up with, right?

Not quite. There are legal requirements that must be met when making a will. It must be signed in a certain way, with people then confirming that they’ve watched the person making the will sign it. The language must be clear and unambiguous, and certain types of assets can’t be passed on by a will. To properly pass on a share of a house, the joint tenancy might need to be severed so that it is owned by tenants in common. Specific gifts must be identified. A will that doesn’t meet these criteria runs the risk of being legally invalid, and then the law steps in to say what should go where. This can happen even if it goes against everything the deceased person wanted - for example, assets will not pass to a loving and supportive unmarried partner unless a valid will sets out that this should happen.

It can also leave behind an awful mess for family and friends to sort out at a time when they would prefer to be planning a funeral and a celebration of someone’s life. Sorting out assets under a will is a lot quicker than sorting out an intestate estate, and it gives the deceased person’s family peace of mind that they’re doing exactly what that person would have wanted them to do. They don’t have to worry about finding time to meet with a probate specialist - or, in a worst case scenario, finding the cash to fund a challenge under the Inheritance Act so that they can inherit something from an intestate estate.

Many people delay making a will because they think it will be expensive or complicated. At QualitySolicitors Chapman and Chubb, our wills start at £120 + VAT for a single, simple will and £180 + VAT for a simple mirror will. We set fixed fees before starting your case so you will always know what you’re paying.

Our experienced wills and probate solicitor Martin Salt will set up an initial meeting to take full instructions about what you want to achieve. Many of our clients find that their will can be created after the first meeting and then all that’s needed is to arrange for the will to be executed correctly. All will prices include an appointment to arrange execution of the will, and we can securely store the original will so that your friends and family will know where to find it when the time comes.

If you are struggling with someone’s estate where no will has been left, or it’s complicated and you think you need some extra help, we’re there to support you with that. Our fees for applying for a grant of probate or letters of administration start at £450 + VAT, and we’ll be on hand throughout the process to update you with how things are going and the likely timescale before the estate can be distributed.

Probate law is complex, but making a will and planning your affairs doesn’t have to be. Contact us today on 01773 540480 to speak to the Wills & Probate team about getting your affairs in order.

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