Dangers of a Homemade Will

With the effects of Covid and the subsequent rise of living costs, homemade Wills are becoming the more popular choice. Such Wills can be cost effective compared to paying a Solicitor but if a Will is not prepared correctly, it may be invalid or unclear. This can make it much more expensive and complicated in the long run.


Common Mistakes

Wills have very strict rules about the way they are prepared and executed. If a Will does not comply with the provisions, it will be invalid. This is often only discovered after death which can result in assets being inherited by family members you did not want including in your Will.

There are many errors that can result in an invalid Will including:-

  • The Will not being witnessed properly
  • Misspelt names
  • The failure to prepare a new Will after marriage. A marriage will automatically revoke a Will unless there it specifically states that it was made in contemplation of marriage
  • Correct legal wording not being used


Outdated or Ambiguous Wills

Most Wills are made years before a person’s death and then their circumstances change. They may have, for example, left their house to a specific Beneficiary but by the time they have passed away, their house has been sold and the Will not updated. This would mean that the intended Beneficiary does not receive anything.

There are many cases where homemade Wills have led to ambiguity where there is an unclear meaning. It is not unusual for the Court to get involved in determining what the deceased originally intended. This could result in the Court’s judgement being different to what the deceased intended so in order to ensure your Estate is administered the way you had planned, it is always advisable to obtain professional advice.



A Solicitor or professional Will writer will ask questions to assess the capacity of the client and to make sure the client understands exactly what is going in their Will. If capacity is an issue, a medical professional will also be instructed. This procedure is unlikely to have been followed when preparing a homemade Will and this may make it easier for the Will to be challenged by family members who are not inheriting.

When the Court is asked to consider whether someone had capacity, they will examine contemporaneous notes from when the testator made their Will. If the testator has instructed a professional, this will include the Solicitor’s file and attendance notes as well as any medical reports. When a person has not instructed a professional to prepare their Will then there is likely to be a lack of this information.


Inheritance Tax Planning

Inheritance Tax is currently charged at a rate of 40% of your chargeable estate when you die. A homemade Will is often drafted without taking Inheritance Tax into account. However, by taking professional advice it is often possible to mitigate this tax. By making use of available allowances and reliefs, your Estate may pay little or no Inheritance Tax.


Benefits of Solicitor  

A professionally drafted Will may seem expensive at the time but it is cheaper in the long run if the homemade Will turns out to be invalid. It will also avoid future disputes as the Solicitor will check the validity, advise accordingly and obtain a mental capacity assessment if required. They will also advise on any Inheritance Tax issues.


Contact us:

Call – 01204 377600

Email – katrina.hurst@afglaw.co.uk