13 May 2020

My relative made a DIY will and I have concerns. What can I do?

When a loved one passes away, it is a very emotional and challenging time. This time can be made even harder when the will that they have left is either unclear or you have concerns about its validity.

What is concerning about a DIY will?

In the UK, more and more people are choosing to prepare their will themselves to save the cost of legal fees.

The mistakes and errors made in DIY wills can result in the whole will being invalid or cause some or all of the gifts made in the will to fail.

Common mistakes

Here are some common examples of mistakes and errors to look out for, or problems which often result in claims:

  • The will reads “I leave my house to my son”; the deceased did, however, have two sons, so it is unclear to whom the house is gifted.
  • The will fails to explain what will happen to the estate in its entirety, leaving some parts of the estate to fall to the intestacy rules.
  • The will has not been signed and /or witnessed correctly, meaning that it is invalid.
  • A person who will benefit under the will has also acted as a witness, meaning the gift made will fail.
  • You are concerned that the testator lacked “testamentary” capacity when the will was made, or that it was made under duress from someone else, particularly where the person making their will was in a vulnerable position.

What can I do?

If the above examples ring a bell with you, do get in touch so that we can discuss your concerns and advise on your options.

Some of the common claims that are made following the above concerns are:

  • Seeking to challenge the will due to a lack of due execution, when the correct procedure was not followed when the will was prepared.
  • Seeking to challenge the will due to lack of capacity, when you believe the person making the will lacked the required mental capacity at the time of the will being prepared.
  • A claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 to claim for provision from the estate, if you feel you have not been sufficiently provided for or feel you have been excluded as a result of the DIY will.

Should you have concerns about the validity of a DIY will, or are not sure what you are entitled to inherit, and would like advice on challenging an estate, please contact Beth King-Smith at bksmith@hcrlaw.com or on 07384 119 523.

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About the Author
Beth King-Smith, Partner, Head of Disputed Wills, Trusts and Estates

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