Are homemade Wills a bad idea?

Making a homemade Will

Your Will is, without doubt, one of the most important documents you will ever sign. Not only is it your final instruction on what happens to your assets and who will benefit from your wealth, but it’s also a chance to specify who items, such as family heirlooms, should be passed to. Many people look upon Will writing as taking care of their loved ones and protecting their future.

Using a homemade Will

Given the importance of a Will, creating a homemade one carries risks. Of course, it’s typically better to make a homemade Will than none at all, particularly if you want to share your assets in a specific way, but it can make things more complicated rather than less so. At worst, it can result in confusion and conflict among the beneficiaries, or even be deemed invalid, resulting in the people or causes you care for most getting nothing.

When using a qualified solicitor to make your Will, you can be sure that the document is valid, and that your final wishes will be followed. You will also be covered for any eventualities you may not think of, such as if your named beneficiaries pass away before or alongside you.

What makes a Will invalid?

There are several things that can make a Will invalid, and if you are determined to make a homemade Will, you will need to bear them in mind.

One of the easiest ways to invalidate your document is during the process of signing. Long-established rules govern how Wills should be signed, and they are in place to protect both the writer of the Will (the testator) and those who stand to inherit. For example, asking members of your family or an unmarried partner to witness the signing could end up disinheriting them altogether.

Other reasons a Will may be deemed invalid is if there’s reasonable cause to suspect it was made under pressure, or that the testator was not of sound mind when it was created. Any later alterations to the document can also affect its validity, such as if you change the signed Will instead of creating a new one.

Other considerations

If you suspect your estate is worth over £325,000, which is the current threshold for inheritance tax, you will need to account for any inheritance tax that will be incurred. Professionals such as Kent accountants for Probate services can advise on ways to reduce the amount of inheritance tax that’s payable, ensuring your loved ones receive the most benefit from your wealth.

If you are leaving your share of a business in your Will, it’s particularly important to obtain legal advice. Passing on a company – or your share in it – can be complex, and depends on any agreements you have signed with partners or co-directors.

To ensure your Will is valid, and that your chosen beneficiaries are properly protected, there’s no substitute for engaging a legal professional to complete the process. If, however, you want to go it alone, you’ll need to consider the above points, and we recommend seeking help from Kent tax advisors before proceeding.