Thursday, 5 March 2015

Are DIY Wills really worth it?

Making a Will is essential to ensuring that your savings and assets are distributed according to your wishes. However many people in the UK fail to make a Will due to the sadness of the subject and due to the cost. On a whole, solicitors will charge between £100 and £300, with a £600 plus fee for inheritance tax advice or for other complex planning.

However, in contrast to this, DIY Wills offer a cheaper alternative, usually costing around a mere £20. Some have suggested that with just a quick look online, you will find a wide range of DIY kits to help you make a Will.

Whilst this 'off-the-shelf' option may seem more attractive due to its price, many argue that this is a risky approach. Using a DIY Will, comes with many risks such as errors and if strict witnessing rules are not followed correctly, your Will document could become invalid.

These types of errors can have serious implications and can often lead to your estate being eaten away by legal bills or unnecessary tax. A report from the Co-operative Legal Services has revealed that poorly drafted or ineffective DIY Wills caused a prolonged probate ordeal for 38,000 families a year. As a result, up to 10% of the value of a persons estate is then taken away by additional fees incurred by an ineffective Will. So with the average estate in the UK standing at £160,000, around £16,000 would be wasted away to probate fees.

If you are looking for a solicitor to help you with your Will, it is advised that you choose a Wills and Probate Solicitor who is accredited with the Law Society. Will writing services are also available from other providers, however before instructing them it is essential that you ensure they are governed by a regulatory body such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

So what are the rules of Intestacy?

If someone dies intestate (without a Will), the persons estate is then distributed according to the rules of intestacy. In October 2014, these rules where changed for the first time since 1925 in order to simplify the old system. One of the biggest changes made was for couples who are married or are in a civil partnership but have no children, will now inherit the entire estate if their partner dies intestate.

Under the new rules and when children are involved, the surviving spouse or civil partner will get:
  • all the property of the person who passed away
  • the first £250,000 of the estate
  • 50% of the remainder of the estate
  • remaining assets are held for the deceased's children
However, it is important to note that these new rules do not apply to those who live together and are not married. This means that cohabitees do not automatically have rights to their partners estate if they die without leaving a Will.

For further information and advice on Wills and Probate visit

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