Should I write my own Will?
Posted on 12th December 2019
What a Will must include
Your Will can be in any style; you could literally write one on the back of an envelope.
However, your Will must be created properly. It must be in writing, signed by you, and witnessed by two adults who are with you when you sign it.
You must have mental capacity to make your Will, understand the effect it will have, and make it voluntarily without pressure from anyone else.
At the beginning you should clearly say that the Will you are now writing revokes all others. For clarity, any earlier Will should be destroyed.
If you want to make any changes to your Will they should be added in a codicil which is properly witnessed, or your Will should be rewritten and witnessed.
Difficulties with DIY Wills
The first difficulty could come with the words you use, because some words and phrases have very specific meanings in a Will. If your wording isn’t clear, it’s possible that your executors won’t be able to follow your wishes and could even mean that your will isn’t valid.
For example, you could include your grandchildren in your Will. Legally, that would include all the grandchildren living when you die or who are born within 9 months of your death. If this isn’t what you want, you will need to include the names of the grandchildren you want to inherit or give a date before which they should be born.
If you want to leave gifts, you will need to make sure that the person you want to receive the gift can be identified and that the gift itself is clearly described.
If the person you want to receive the gift dies before you, the gift 'fails' if you haven’t included and explanation of who should receive the gift instead. If that happens then the gift might fall under the laws of intestacy. If the gift is to go to a descendant, it might instead go their descendants.
When you shouldn’t write your own will
There are some circumstances where it’s important to take professional advice about how your Will should be drafted. If, for example, you:
own property abroad
want to reduce your Inheritance Tax bill as far as possible
have foreign investments or bank accounts
want to leave your business to someone in your Will
have people, other than your immediate family, who depend on you financially.
If you decide to write your own Will
If you decide to write your own Will, make sure that you do the following things:
sign and date it and have it properly witnessed
check spelling carefully, especially people’s names
clearly describe your intentions, for example, give your partner’s full name, if that’s who you want to inherit your estate
destroy any previous Wills
tell your executor where the Will is to be kept.
If you are unsure about what to include in your Will, please get in touch.
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