Are homemade DIY Wills legal?

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As we get older and our families expand, it’s completely normal to start thinking about protecting our hard-earned assets and ensuring they get passed on to the right people when we pass away, despite it being a rather morbid and difficult thing to consider.

If you want to write your own will to protect your loved ones, you may be wondering whether it would be best to handwrite it on a piece of paper (known as a holograph will) or online with a professional will-writing service in order to save on costs.

In this guide, we look at the risks of handwriting your own DIY last will and testament, whether or not holograph Wills are legal, what happens if a will turns out to be invalid and we explain the best way to write your own will at home.

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Can you write your own Will?

The simple answer to this question is yes, you can easily write your own will without the need of an expensive solicitor, and it can be a lot easier and cheaper than many people assume - but if you decide to do this yourself, without any professional help, you run the risk of making an invalid will, which means that when the testator (the person who has written the will) passes away, the wishes stated in the will won’t be considered and their estate will be shared out in line with the rules of intestacy.

For a will to be valid in the eyes of UK law, it must adhere to the Wills Act 1837, where it states that a last will and testament must be:

“Signed by the testator with the intention of it giving effect to their Will in the presence of two witnesses, who each sign the Will in the presence of the testator”.

So you can’t just simply handwrite a will and get it notarized by a solicitor for example, it must follow the above rules. If you do not get your DIY handmade will signed and witnessed properly, it will not be legally-valid, meaning that your loved ones may face upset and difficulty in the event of your death and your assets are unlikely to go to who you want them to.

Read our guides for more advice on witnessing a will correctly :

While a temporary law was put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic regarding video-witnessing, it strongly recommended that you only use this as a last resort, as it could potentially bring about problems later on.

Is a homemade will legally-valid?

Only if it adheres to the will-writing rules stated in the Wills Act 1837 and it uses the correct terminology. 

Writing a will is an important part of late-life planning and protecting your loved ones, so it’s important to get it right. To ensure your will is legally-valid and that there will be no problems when you pass away, you should write your will with a professional service that offers expert advice and help along the way. This way, you’ll have complete peace of mind knowing that your family won’t suffer any distress when the time comes.

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The disadvantages of handwritten Wills

While the signing and witnessing of a will is the main problem when it comes to making your own DIY handwritten will, there are a few other risks to be aware of on top of this.

Here are some additional drawbacks and risks that come with holograph Wills:

The expression of intention can be challenged in court

Another problem with a handwritten will on paper is that the court could question whether or not it is the deceased person’s actual intended will or just a signed piece of paper with some thoughts jotted down, which will cause serious problems when it comes to granting probate.

For this reason, handwritten Wills will only be accepted if they have a final and deliberate expression of intention about the distribution of the testator’s property and possessions in the event of their death.

The testator’s mental capacity could be questioned

When someone writes a will, they must have testamentary capacity, which means the testator must be able to fully understand what they are doing, what they are writing in their will, why they are doing it and the effects of writing one.

When the testator passes away, if there is any doubt regarding their mental capacity at the time of writing the will then it could be questioned, which could potentially mean the will is invalid.

Many people who create a DIY will don’t tend to think about this risk, so it’s something to bear in mind if you’re considering it. This is another reason why getting a professional to help you is the best way of writing your own will.

The correct language must be used

To ensure that your will is legally-valid, it is important that everything you write in it is clear and uses the right terminology to avoid any of your wishes seeming vague or uncertain.

While you may feel that you have adhered to the Wills Act and you have written your will clearly with much thought, there is always that underlying worry that something may not be completely correct according to UK law and this may cause confusion when the time comes. For pure peace of mind, we highly recommend writing your will online with a specialist service that can offer the help and advice from a professional throughout the process, especially if you want to write it yourself, without the help of a solicitor and at an affordable price.

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What happens if a will is invalid?

In the event that a will is deemed invalid, the deceased person’s estate will be administered according to the rules of intestacy, unless they had previously made a valid will.

Intestacy rules set out exactly who is legally entitled to be the executor of the will (i.e. apply for probate and distribute the estate) as well as who is entitled to receive inheritance from the deceased’s estate.

While the deceased’s relatives will receive inheritance in an order of priority (spouse first, then children, etc.) with intestacy rules, it may not be in line with their true final wishes, so their assets could be shared out to people in their family that they did not wish to receive anything.

It’s important to remember that when someone dies intestate, people such as unmarried partners or step-children will not be considered to receive any inheritance, which is why it’s so important to write a will and ensure it is legally-valid with a professional service.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that in the event of an invalid will, it could end up causing a lot of stress for your loved ones and potentially a lot of money is they take legal action to dispute it.

Use a professional online service

As you can see, there are a lot of potential risks that come with writing your own will on paper, and it’s important that you don’t forget the main reason for writing it; to protect your assets and your loved ones.

It’s crucial to get it right, and that’s where our team at Wills.Services come in. 

All you need to do is register with us for free to create your own account, submit your will to our team of professionals after answering a range of questions regarding your estate and final personal requests, and our experts will check it over for you to make sure it is legally-valid as per the Wills Act 1837.

Find out more about the whole process on our homepage, or register with us today to start making your legally-valid will at home - it doesn’t have to be completed all at once; you can save it and go back to it when you have the time.

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Article reviewed 11th January 2022