In a word, yes. You can buy DIY will forms online, or from a high street store, for as little as £5.
Writing your own will is legally binding if you do it correctly. It’s also cheap, fast and can be a good option for certain people in certain circumstances.
“DIY often work for young, single people with no children. They wish to leave their assets to loved ones,” explains Maplebrook Wills’ Mike Pugh. “People tend to opt for DIY wills if they’re about to have an operation or about to take a flight and have a bad feeling, for example.”
However, problems can arise if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you make a mistake during the most crucial stage – the signing of the document, known as the attestation – your DIY will won’t be legally binding.
The person whose will it is – the testatrix if it’s a woman or testator if it’s a man – must sign the document in the presence of two witnesses. The witnesses, who must also sign it, need to be over the age of 18. They cannot be beneficiaries of the will.
“That’s generally where people make mistakes. They don’t realise that all three people have to be in the same room at the same time and witness it together,” says Pugh.
Even if you do this correctly, it’s possible that other errors could creep in. If so, this could lead to parts of the will being invalid – a situation known as ‘partial intestacy’.
“There could be some duplication, clauses that are poorly written or that cancel out one another, or mix-ups with the beneficiaries of trusts. The result might be a gift, potentially worth thousands of pounds, that can’t be claimed by the person you intended to have it,” says Pugh.
Fortunately, you can get a legally valid will from a professional will writer for a fraction of the cost of a traditional high-street solicitor.
If you decide to use a will writer, there’s a very important question to ask, says Pugh. “Do they prepare the documents themselves or do they send them away? If they prepare the documents themselves, they’re probably more switched on and will do a decent job.”
It’s also worth asking if your will writer is affiliated with any of the national will-writing organisations. Accredited writers have the benefit of professional indemnity insurance. This protects their business in the event of claims against them, such as accidental damage of property.
The will writers at Maplebrook Wills are accredited specialists who’ve written hundreds of wills. They know the exact wording to use for your circumstances, so you can have confidence that your assets will be passed on exactly as you intend.
Instead of having to visit an office, a Maplebrook Wills will writer can come to you at a convenient time. They’ll discuss your needs in detail before drawing up a document, returning when it’s ready to sign.
The process takes around two weeks from start to finish and typically involves no more than two hours of your time in total.