Making your Will is one of the most important things you’ll ever do. But do you need a solicitor, or can you draft your own?
Despite what you might think, you can create a homemade Will. And, as long as it is properly drafted and meets all the necessary requirements, it will be legal in England & Wales. But, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Here’s why.
The need for clarity
If you’re writing your Will by hand, you must ensure you understand what’s required.
Handwritten Wills (also known as ‘holograph’ Wills) must be signed by the Testator (the person making the Will) in the presence of two witnesses. These witnesses must also sign the Will in the presence of the Testator.
Furthermore, the Testator must understand that in doing this, they are creating a Will.
Also, the law won’t just accept any handwritten document. It needs to be a clear and final expression of intention about where assets should go upon death.
Another issue with homemade Wills is that often the language isn’t clear. What might seem obvious to you might not be evident in the eyes of the law. You need to use the right terminology.
A rise in disputed Wills
There has been a rise in disputes over inheritance. Common reasons for this include:
- Changing family structures which often include unmarried couples living together and second families
- An ageing population and the increased risk of mental health and dementia
- Rising property values resulting in a growing number of estates worth contesting
- An increase in the number of people leaving money to charities.
Even where a Will exists, it can be challenged and overruled. With disagreements about inheritance usually devastating for those left behind, and often very expensive to resolve, a carefully drafted Will should be a priority for us all.
When you make a Will you’ll want to make sure that your loved ones don’t pay any more Inheritance Tax than they need to.
There are many ways to limit your liability, but unless you are an expert in this area, the money you save on drafting your Will at home could be tiny compared to the amount you have to pay the taxman due to poor inheritance tax planning.