In straightforward smaller estates, without family, property or financial complexities, a DIY Will could be a cost-effective option. It is important, however, to ensure you consult a Wills expert in any case before deciding to go down this route to ensure this is the right decision and there are not any circumstances which add complexity to your estate and require advice from an expert. A well-written Will is crucial as errors or mistakes caused by inexperience in this complex field can lead to large inheritance tax bills which can cause financial problems, children may be left without a carer or your Will may be deemed invalid, which will mean your estate will be divided according to intestacy rules instead of according to your wishes. Paying a little more now for a Will that is fully suited to your requirements can save your loved ones any financial and emotional stress down the line.
With some guidance, however, and provided your estate does not have the types of complexities that would require expert advice, you can successfully draft a DIY Will. Below is some guidance on DIY Will writing if you are considering this option:
DIY Writing Kits
You can download DIY Writing Kits, which can be a cost-effective way to write a Will, and has a guide as to what to include in your Will. We offer a free Will writing template to you get started which includes everything you need to write a basic Will, and will guide you on appointing executors, guardians; allow you to detail specific gifts and legacies and add funeral wishes. See our DIY Will Writing Kit page for more details on our templates.
Will Writing Rules
Will writing involves following rules on writing and where these may be overlooked during the writing of a Will and can deem the document invalid. Points to look out for include:
- You must ensure the document is signed by a witness
- Do not ask a beneficiary to sign as a witness
- You must ensure you sign the Will properly
- Be careful not to staple your Will as this could nullify its contents
- Any additions to a Will have to be done in the appropriate manner, with a codicil, and not simply attached or handwritten into the Will.
Appointing a Guardian
Where you are the parent of a young child, appointing a guardian for them should you and your partner die before they reach maturity is an often overlooked, but highly important consideration. Failure to do so may mean someone is appointed by the Court who you may not necessarily have chosen, and it can sometimes mean your children will go into social care services until the Court makes the appointment.
Inheritance Tax Considerations
Estates with assets valued over £325,000 (the nil rate band for Inheritance Tax) will pay 40 percent inheritance tax on any sum above that threshold. There is a spousal exception to this rule, which means can leave everything you own to a spouse or civil partner in a Will and they will not be charged for Inheritance Tax. Thus, a surviving spouse can then leave up to £650,000 to their beneficiaries free of inheritance tax when they die. If you think you may be liable for Inheritance Tax, get in touch with one of our expert Will writers for advice. Also, it's worth bearing in mind that although your assets do not reach the threshold now, inflation may cause your house value to rise over the coming years, so it is worth preparing for such an eventuality.
Marriage & Your Will
Marriage will cancel out any previous Will unless the Will clearly states otherwise. If you are considering marriage you should get in touch with a Wills expert as soon as possible to discuss a Will review.
Divorce & Your Will
Divorce can have the effect of cancelling out terms in the Will, where your divorced partner is mentioned, they will effectively be considered as if they are deceased. This is especially important where you have appointed an ex-partner as a trustee – for example, it may well be that you still wish your ex-partner to be trustee for a Trust set up to benefit you and your ex-spouse's children.
Unmarried Partners & Your Will
The laws of intestacy do not protect unmarried couples. If an unmarried partner dies without a valid Will, their partner will not inherit from them under the rules of intestacy. This is often misunderstood and has left many people whose partners have died intestate with no inheritance. If you are living with a partner, get in touch with our Wills specialists who can advise you how best to ensure your partner is provided for after you die.
DIY Wills Made Easy
If you are looking to write a Will, or review an existing one, we can help. For simple estates, our DIY Will kits can be an attractive and cost-effective option. If you wish to speak to us about estate planning, our friendly and knowledgeable advisers would be delighted to hear from you. Contact us today on 0345 260 0600 or get in touch via our online contact form.