Do you know what the number one mistake of Will writing is? Not making a Will at all! Recent research suggests that over half of all UK adults don’t have a Will. Don’t be one of them! Having decided to write a Will, the last thing you want is to make a mistake. Mistakes in Wills can have serious consequences that mean your wishes may not be effective. Although some mistakes can be rectified by a court, this may cost your friends and relatives in time and money. Read on for more information about how to make your Will and avoid making mistakes.
Leaving out assets
Most people remember assets such as their house, car, etc. But don’t forget your intangible assets when you write your Will. These are things such as bank accounts (including online), shares and premium bonds. You should also consider your digital footprint – social media accounts, digital photos, music and other online accounts. How do you want these to be dealt with? You may be able to pass on loyalty points or air miles to your loved ones, so consider what you want to happen to these.
Being too specific
Usually it’s good to be specific, but when you make your Will you could actually be too specific. If you specify the name and model of the car you currently own and then replace it with another car, it might be difficult to determine whether you wanted to leave that particular car or you meant any car that you owned at the time of your death. Instead of being too specific, you could say ‘the car in my name’.
If you make a gift to your ‘children’ when you write your Will, this won’t include your stepchildren. However, it will include legally adopted children.
A beneficiary dies before you
You must have a backup plan in case a beneficiary dies before you.
Mistakes in signing and witnessing
Make sure that your two witnesses (or witness in Scotland) are over 18, UK citizens and physically present when you sign your Will. Sometimes a witness is named in the Will as a beneficiary or is married to someone who is – don’t do this! You could end up disinheriting the beneficiary if they are also a witness to your Will.
Not updating a Will after major life events
Following a divorce, death of a family member, birth of a new family member, marriage or purchase of a new property, you should consider updating your Will. In England and Wales, when you marry, any Will you have automatically becomes invalid and you will have to make a new one. In Scotland, however, marriage or civil partnership does not revoke a Will, so it’s even more important to make a new Will in these circumstances. After a divorce, your ex spouse is treated as if they had died and any gift they would have received falls into your estate’s residue. Also remember that if you’re not married to your partner they aren’t entitled to anything from your estate unless you include it in your Will. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together – they will get nothing!
Changing a Will after it’s been signed or witnessed
You can’t just add more text to a Will whenever you feel like it. You need to have any new wording in your Will witnessed. If you want to make additions to your Will, you should make a new Will and have it signed and witnessed.
Not appointing guardians
If you don’t appoint guardians to look after your children in the unlikely event that you and the other parent die, then this could be decided by the family courts and they may not choose as guardians the people you would have wanted.
Forgetting to name an executor or appointing inappropriate executors
If you forget to name any executors when you write your Will, the probate court can appoint an executor. Bear in mind that these people might not be your first choice. Make sure you also name someone appropriate to be your executor – ie, not someone that lives abroad, doesn’t want to act or is not mentally competent.
Not having an original copy of your Will
Make sure your executors know where the original copy of your Will is. Your executors will need an original copy of your Will to legally act. A photocopy is not good enough to get a grant of probate!
Disinheriting your relatives without providing a reason
If you want to leave a dependant out of a Will, you should be explicit about why and where you’d like your money to go instead, otherwise they could contest your Will. It may be a good idea to leave written reasons as to why you have chosen not to make a gift to them.
Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
If you make a Will while you have been drinking heavily, are on heavy medication or are mentally compromised, there is an argument that your Will should be invalid. So, make sure you have full capacity when you make your Will.
Making a homemade Will
You can’t just write your Will on a scrap of paper. You need to use specific wording. That’s why Lawpack’s Last Will & Testament Kit is a great, cost-effective solution as it contains all the wording you need to create a simple Will. See here for more information about making a Will without a lawyer.
A cost-effective DIY solution: Lawpack’s Last Will & Testament Kit
For nearly 20 years, Lawpack has proved you can write your own Will without it being expensive. Lawpack’s Last Will & Testament Kit gives you the confidence and the tools to follow straightforward steps to make a valid Will without the need for legal advice.
Lawpack’s Last Will & Testament Kit has been approved by a solicitor and will provide you with all the information you need to make a valid Will. There is a step-by-step solicitor-approved Guidance manual on writing a Will and a choice of three ready-to-complete forms for use in England & Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland.
This DIY Kit is a good option for those who want to write their own Will and need a bit of extra legal guidance, but can’t afford to use a lawyer to help them write their Will.