How many of us would swap time in the sun for making a Will? According to a recent survey most of us would rather spend the money on a holiday – for which I can already predict your response – “well it’s hardly a surprise!”
DIY Will Kits are readily available all over the high street and it is easy to see why this is a desirable option. The low cost hassle-free element alone would entice most of us, in a society where time is of the essence and booking an appointment to see a solicitor is not top of the agenda.
Charities should urge their supporters to proceed with caution when using a DIY Will kit purchased over the counter. Failing to use the correct wording could result in a situation they do not wish for or even worse, that the Will is not valid at all. Whilst it may be uncomfortable for supporters to plan what the future may look like without them, it is important in order to spare their family the joint heartbreak of loss and the potential shock that their loved one’s Will hasn’t quite achieved their wishes.
Charities are probably best placed to raise this issue with their supporters at an early stage when considering legacy giving. Most charities already work closely with solicitors’ firms and some even have agreements for Will Weeks where wills are offered to supporters at reduced rates.
The following examples seek to show the potentially devastating consequences of a DIY Will and are examples, which could easily be raised with supporters in a sympathetic way:
These examples serve as a reminder that whilst it may take more time and money, a solicitor drafting a will is experienced in recognising these situations and it is our role to pose the right questions to prevent uncertainty, allow a person’s true wishes to be recorded and ensure these are capable of being carried out.
For charities, it is important to ensure that their supporters have all the required information available to them if they do want to leave a charitable legacy in their will. Not everyone will go to a solicitor to make their wills. Charities should consider preparing guidance of their own as to how someone should go about making provision for the charity in their will, which might include preparing some example clauses for people to copy into their wills, or clear instructions on the legal process of validly executing the will which has been prepared.
In other words, whilst homemade Wills might be attractive from an immediate cost saving point of view, in the long term, whilst made with the best of intentions, they can cause serious problems, which are ultimately very expensive to resolve.