In a recent case, Henrietta Ingram & Anor v Simon Timothy Abraham & Anor, a mother had previously made a professional Will in 2008 however, she then made her own subsequent Will in 2019 using an internet template. Her intention was to ensure that her 2 older children and younger child would benefit from her estate equally, whilst taking into account any lifetime gifts which she had made. The mother verbally confirmed her intentions to her younger child in that they were being trusted to look after their adult siblings by ensuring that the mother’s estate was divided equally.
In this case, the judge confirmed that the mother’s 2008 Will was her valid Will, which had to be used to obtain a Grant of Probate for her estate. This is because there were too many inconsistencies within the mother’s her 2019 Will and, it was also invalid. This is because it had named the younger child as the sole Executor who was acting as a Trustee for themself and their spouse.
What risks are involved in making my own Will?
By making your own Will there is the possibility that one or more
of the following may take place:-
- Your Will may not have been signed or witnessed correctly– This can even include having the incorrect number of witnesses who are present, at the time of your Will being signed.
- A beneficiary has witnessed your Will– This will result in the beneficiary forfeiting their right to what is being left to them in your Will.
- You have referred to your “children” in your Will– This does not include any step-children you may have, even though you may wish for them to benefit from your Will.
- Not being specific enough in relation to leaving personal possessions in your Will– This could be such as when you have multiple items of the same type, such as more than one house, jewellery items or vehicles etc.
How can a Will which I have drafted myself (“DIY) create issues for my loved ones following my passing?
Figures from the Co-Operative Services have suggested that poorly drafted DIY Wills are to blame for the prolonged Probate ordeal for around 38,000 families.
In addition to this, in another case, Ellen McCormack has spent over 2 years dealing with her cousin, George McCormack’s estate due George’s DIY Will which was kept in his pocket. Following George’s passing, it was found that his DIY Will contained 73 errors, which consisted of the following:-
- Handwritten amendments in different colour inks.
- The Will had not been witnessed at the time of when it had been drafted.
- It was constantly amended, including the amounts which beneficiaries were to inherit under the Will.
The result of George’s DIY Will resulted in 16% of George’s £98,000.00 estate (over £15,000.00) being used for fees, which would have been avoided had he made a valid Will.
Ellen stated that “I tried to tell George to go to a solicitor, but he never did. This has made the whole process very stressful for those left behind. It’s also very sad because George put a lot of thought into how his estate would be distributed in the event of his death. He wouldn’t have wanted this.”
If you have any queries or concerns regarding your own existing Will, or, ensuring that you have planned for your loved ones in the future. Please do not hesitate to contact me or my colleagues, as we will be delighted to assist you.
James is a Paralegal with more than 7 years’ worth of experience in Alfred Newton’s Private Client department.
 Bianca Castro, ‘Lack of Lawyers a ‘problem’ in DIY will dispute’ (The Law Society Gazette, 15 August 2023) <https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/lack-of-lawyers-a-problem-in-diy-will-dispute/5116979.article> accessed 17 August 2023
 Linda Cummins, ‘How can DIY wills lead to inheritance disputes’ (The Gazette, 19 July 2019) <thegazette.co.uk/all-notices/content/103355> accessed 17 August 2023
 Esther Shaw, ‘The dangers of DIY wills’ (The Guardian, 9 February 2015) <https://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/feb/09/dangers-diy-wills-mistakes> accessed 17 August 2023