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Limitations of a Homemade Will and the Vital Importance of Regular Review

Damian Lines TEP, Managing Partner and head of the Wills, Trusts and Probate department at Rubin Lewis O’Brien considers homemade, or ‘DIY’, Wills

All to often I see examples of family relationships tested, the intentions of the deceased frustrated and a great deal of disappointment all round. Just this week there has been another Will dispute before the Court where the deceased had made her own Will without any professional assistance at all.

A recent example

In the case of the Will of Joanne Abraham recently considered by the High Court, the deceased had made a Will some years ago but changed it in 2019 to appoint her younger brother Simon as executor on the basis that he would then distribute her estate to ‘balance out’ the entitlements of her two children taking into account what they had each received in her lifetime. Unfortunately, what she did was make a Will giving her entire estate to Simon and his wife. Her children received nothing.

In the dispute before the Court, the judge commented that had she taken professional advice then it would have been clear to the solicitor what she wanted to achieve. Her will as made by her did not achieve this, and so it came down to a decision of the Court to reinstate the previous Will on the basis that she did not understand what was in the later Will, or what the effect of it would be.

In my own practice over the last seventeen years or so I have seen all sorts of Wills – whether made with or without assistance – that do not appear to do what was intended. Sometimes these things can be ironed out with agreement, but often they lead to irreparable harm being caused to family relationships – which is not a legacy any of us would wish to leave.

Writing a Will may seem like a simple affair, but taking advice and avoiding unintended results is absolutely vital. Plus, in the event of any future dispute, there is a formal record to refer to meaning that your intentions can be made clear.

I and my colleagues take the business of preparing Wills very seriously. It is important to keep them under review, and to ensure that they operate exactly as you intend.

If you have a Will and would like to review it, telephone us for an appointment. We will be pleased to meet with you at no cost to explain the terms of the Will as it stands. If changes are required, we can then discuss how to proceed.

Call us on 01633 867000 to arrange an appointment or fill out our contact form.

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