The dangers of DIY wills
Published 3 December 2018. By Anne Wilson
MKB Law were recently instructed in a case which demonstrates the importance of a professionally drafted will. Let us tell you a story…
Once upon a time there was a man, we’ll call him Ted, who was very careful with his money. Wishing to put his affairs in order, he went to his local solicitor and asked for a quote for his Will. Although the quote was very reasonable, he was appalled by the suggestion. He thought “How hard can drafting a Will be?” and set out to write his own – a ‘DIY Will’ if you will!
Some time later, Ted passed away. His family instructed Anne Wilson from MKB Law to deal with the administration of the estate. Anne took one look at the Will and her heart sank. There were numerous mistakes and issues, but the main problem was that, although it was clear Ted wanted his eldest son, in our story Fred, to inherit the land (by far the biggest asset in the estate), he had added so many provisos and conditions that it was open to interpretation.
To ensure the correct administration, Anne sought the opinion of an experienced barrister who confirmed that the land should go to Fred. Anne set about assenting the land into Fred’s name, but before this could happen, in stepped Fred’s younger brother, Ned…
Ned objected to the registration of the land into Fred’s name. We therefore found ourselves in front of the Registrar of the Land Registry to hear that objection. The Registrar confirmed Fred as the registered owner, but informed Ned that if he had an issue with the interpretation of the Will he should bring this to the High Court.
So the case was taken to the High Court…
Although Fred ultimately ended up getting the land, this was after months of legal cases, not to mention thousands of pounds of legal fees. More importantly, it damaged family relationships, possibly irreparably. This was all to save the small amount that the Will would have cost Ted in the first place.
Counsel’s opinion – £600
High Court case – £10,000
Professionally drafted Will – £150
Peace of mind – PRICELESS
Anne Wilson comments: “We see issues time and time again with clients who have attempted to make their own Wills and have caused their families no end of problems. A professionally-prepared Will will not only ensure your wishes are carried out but also that any disputes after you pass are kept to a minimum.”