Wills are a tricky subject. They’re tricky to write, to talk about, or even to think about creating in the first place. They’re also tricky to get right, but, unfortunately, the consequences of getting your will wrong are often severe.
We create wills so that our loved ones have guidance when it comes to sorting our estates after we’ve died. They ensure that money is distributed according to our wishes and that any other assets – whether valuable, like property and investments, or sentimental – are assigned to the right people.
It’s not just about avoiding disagreements between your surviving relatives but about ensuring any dependents are kept safe from financial difficulties when you’re no longer there to look after them yourself. It’s about fulfilling promises made in life and showing your loved ones what they mean to you one final time.
For that reason alone, getting it right is paramount – but mistakes are all too easily made without the right approach. In the UK, the complexities of inheritance law mean that many of us could be at risk of keeping invalid wills. Here’s what you need to know.
What makes a will invalid?
A lot of things can make a will invalid, from proving that it was forged to demonstrating that the testator (the person who made the will) was unduly influenced to make (or omit) certain requests within it. It won’t come as a surprise that contesting a will on these grounds is incredibly difficult – not to mention time-consuming.
But one of the most prevalent causes of an invalid will is much less dramatic – and a mistake much more easily made.
Clerical errors – in other words, issues with the way the will was signed and witnessed – can easily render a will invalid, even if the rest of the will is sound.
Wills can also be rendered invalid if you get married. In fact, any significant life event warrants a new draft of your will. The more out-of-date it feels at the time of your death, the higher the risk that it will be contested.
Without a will, your estate will be distributed according to the law of intestacy, and that means some of your closest loved ones may be left out by default.
How to avoid clerical errors in your will
The best way to avoid making any mistakes – and, at the same time, give yourself the peace of mind that the will won’t need to be contested – is to work with a solicitor to draft your will. Solicitors have extensive experience in inheritance law, and they know better than anyone how to put together an extensive and clear document that your family can rely upon when you are no longer there to help them.
DIY wills make it all too easy for mistakes to happen. They can be drafted without any insight from a legal professional, which means there are no guarantees that you will fulfil the formalities that are required in order for a will to be considered legally valid.
Don’t leave your loved ones’ inheritances up to chance. Enlist the help of a solicitor to draft your will, and offer you and your family invaluable peace of mind.