The perils of “DIY” wills
With Smith v Ganning offering a reminder of the importance of executing a will properly, in Today's Wills and Probate, Geoffrey Todd reinforces the perils of “DIY” wills.
Geoffrey Todd, Private Client & Tax Partner at Boodle Hatfield says:
The mistakes people make when undertaking “DIY” wills are unfortunately many and varied. One of the most common errors is the failure to have the will witnessed correctly, which therefore makes it invalid. People are often unaware of the requirement to have two adult witnesses present (neither of which can be either a beneficiary or married to a beneficiary). Failure to appoint executors to administer the estate is another requirement easily overlooked.
Another recurring issue is the failure to consider international aspects when drawing up a DIY will. If the testator is from abroad, thought must be given as to whether English law applies to their succession, or where assets sit in other jurisdictions, whether they remain subject to English law or not.
Disputes can frequently arise if the will was made when the individual was either elderly or ill and could have lacked mental capacity, which provides an open door to disappointed potential beneficiaries to make a challenge to the will. Equally, a lack of specificity when it comes to specific assets, heirlooms, or family mementoes (by way of example) can lead to argument later down the line. It is important for all wills to have a “residue” clause to ensure nothing is left out.
These comments first appeared in Today’s Wills and Probate on 27 April 2023.