The consequences of a DIY Will and is it really worth the risk…
One of the main reasons people attempt to prepare a Homemade Will is to save money. Undeniably, there will be an initial saving of course. However, if you do not prepare the Will correctly, it could cost your family thousands in legal fees trying to unpick the complications. Not only would it be a costly problem for your family, but it can also inevitably, take many months, if not years, to get to the bottom of these cases and to release the assets.
Not having the Will correctly signed and witnessed, is the main reason that Wills are invalid, or the courts require certain, often costly, extras steps to be taken before the Will can be executed.
It is sometimes the case that the courts will not accept a Homemade Will on the grounds that there is no proof that the purported testator has signed the Will themselves. In the recent case of Mr William Tibbles, a judge has ruled that the DIY Will Mr Tibbles signed just five days before his death, and which was prepared on a piece of paper torn from a notebook was invalid.
Mr Tibbles had five children, but he was particularly close to his daughter Terri. In 2017 Mr Tibbles, through his solicitor, prepared a letter of wishes to accompany his Will, leaving his whole estate to his daughter Terri, with a full explanation as to why he was disinheriting his other four children. However, just before his death in 2018, a Homemade Will was prepared, leaving everything to his four children who were previously disinherited, and cutting out Terri completely. This Will was handed to his solicitors three days before he died.
Judge Matthew Marsh, sitting in the High Court in London in January 2021, said the new mystery Will was invalid. He said there was no evidence that the late Mr Tibbles had signed, dictated or demanded a new Will before he died three years ago. Judge Marsh went on to say that there was ‘no evidence placed before me about who wrote the will and whether it was written at Mr Tibbles’ dictation, who was present when that occurred and what his state of mind was at the time. There’s no real explanation for his change of mind and no evidence about him signing it’.
Terri Tibbles had insisted that the ‘DIY will’ could have been signed by anybody and not her father. The judge agreed and ruled in favour of the Homemade Will being invalid, meaning Terri inherited his whole estate, under the terms of his previous Will that he had prepared with his solicitors.
Instructing a professional to prepare your Will for you, gives you the reassurance that everything will be left in good order upon your death. You will have peace of mind that your wishes and feeling will be carried out exactly as you would have wished and that your Will has been executed correctly, leaving no problems for your family to unpick after your death.