Beware dangers of DIY wills says Preston lawyer

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Growth in do-it-yourself wills is leading to more estate disputes and probate problems, warns a Preston lawyer.

Rachael Waring, who specialises in Wills, trusts and probate at Walker Smith Way Legal, says there is a worrying rise in assets not being passed on according to the wishes of people upon death.

Individuals and families can prepare a Will online rather than go to a solicitor. But Rachael warns without professional legal advice, a cheap Will could turn into an expensive mistake.

She said: “Alarmingly you can get a Will document online for £10 but using a professional solicitor could cost as little as £150.

“The effects of a poorly drafted Will are irreversible after you are gone so the saving is not huge compared to the financial consequences of complex legal issues that could follow.

“When preparing a Will, deciding who receives assets such as a house, pensions or personal possessions is only part of the process.

“If you are an unmarried couple with children, a Will can stipulate who would care for the children should both parents die.”

The Legal Ombudsman has revealed that each year up to 180,000 wills are drafted by non-lawyers.

Between 2013 and 2014 over 80 per cent of complaints regarding Wills and probate were left unresolved.

Rachael puts this down to either template DIY versions from the internet or those drafted by unqualified, unregulated and occasionally uninsured members of the public

In a bid to protect consumers the Law Society has launched a campaign which calls for the government to regulate Will writing activity.

Rachael added: “Cheap options are simply not worth the risk. People need to ensure that language used within the documentation is legally watertight, the signing and witnessing is carried out correctly, plus the advice they receive is solid.

“Unfortunately Wills that turn into disputes are all too common.

“The people most vulnerable are those who are unmarried or not in a civil partnership as they cannot inherit without a valid Will.”