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Homemade wills – a recipe for disaster?

When it comes to making a will, is it best to consult a professional or will a DIY job hack it?
Sharon Cahir, Solicitor for Probate and Will and Succession Advice gives us her opinion.

People often think it is cheaper or indeed free to create their own will and avoid using a professional. But there are a number of common pitfalls when making a homemade will, which can lead to the will being overturned and made void. A simple mistake can mean paying a much higher price – not
just financially, but as a result of family feuds that can arise from the uncertainty of a homemade document.

Making a will follows a very specific set of rules. But if the rules are not followed correctly, and to the letter of the law, the document can be easily overturned and deemed invalid.

Before making a will, think about how you would like to look after your family and friends. You may also wish to leave a gift to charity, to ensure your legacy is one that makes a difference to people in need.

The Citizens Information Office set clear requirements of a valid will:

  •  You must be over 18 (if you are or have been married you can be under 18)
  • You must be of sound mind
  • You must sign or mark the will or acknowledge the signature or mark in the presence of two witnesses.
  • Your two witnesses must sign the will in your presence
  • Your two witnesses cannot be people who will gain from your will and they must be present with you at the same time for their attestation to be valid. The witnesses’ spouses/civil partners also cannot gain from your will.
  • Your witnesses must see you sign the will but they do not have to see what is written in it.
  • The signature or mark must be at the end of the will.
  • The will must be in writing

Each of these points may seem simple, but small mistakes can result in a will being overturned. Get expert help and don’t leave your affairs to chance or a costly court case!