Dangers of Making a Homemade Will

23rd March 2017
Dangers of Making a Homemade Will image

Dangers of Making a Homemade Will

In recent months we have seen a number of homemade Wills brought to us following the death of a family member or friend. Suffice to say, a homemade Will is often cheaper than using a firm of solicitors to make a Will but, in the long run, this can cost the surviving family members or friends a great deal in terms of the cost of rectifying any errors (if possible) or legal fees in bringing a claim against the estate as well as the unnecessary stress and heartache at what is already a difficult time.

Whilst we are more than willing to assist with the administration of an estate with a homemade Will, this article provides a brief indication of the dangers involved.

It is common practice for close family members or friends of a person making a Will (a Testator) to complete the Will on their behalf, particularly if that person is suffering from ill health. If those close family members or friends are due to substantially benefit from the Will then this could be classed as undue influence and those due to benefit may need to provide evidence to remove the suspicion.

There are stringent rules in place with regard to the signing of a Will (attestation) and one of the reasons for such stringent rules is to assist with the prevention of fraud. If the rules are not followed correctly then the Will may be invalid and could not be admitted to probate. If this is the case then it may be that a loved one is considered to have died intestate (i.e. without a Will) and their estate may pass to someone they had never intended. Whilst it may be true that the Testator has never seen their long lost relative(s) for many years, where there is no Will or no valid Will then the intestacy rules must be followed and this is exactly who the beneficiary could be. Those the Testator would want to inherit could receive nothing.

Additionally, a beneficiary of a Will cannot be a witness to the signing of a Will, otherwise they will forfeit their entitlements and would receive nothing.

In some cases a Will may be valid in that it has been correctly attested however where certain parts of the Will have not been completed then this could result in a “partial intestacy” and, again, some or all of the estate may pass to people the Testator had never intended. Where a Will has been incorrectly completed or where the wording is ambiguous then this could cause the family or friends unnecessary expense as an interpretation or construction of the Will may be required which may or may not result in the expected outcome.

Although it may be obvious from the circumstances of the Testator or it may seem obvious from the terms of the Will, if every element of the Will has not been correctly completed then the estate may pass to those who were never intended to benefit. Whilst there is the possibility that a claim may be brought against the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 by those who have effectively been disinherited because of an invalid or incorrectly completed Will, there are only certain categories of people who may bring such a claim and they are not guaranteed to be successful. In addition, such a claim could be costly, time-consuming and can be stressful.

It is therefore clear that there are many pitfalls to making a homemade Will and whilst there is a slight saving to be made by making a homemade Will, there are many dangers involved that could become very costly and the intended beneficiaries of a Will may find themselves disinherited. It is therefore always recommended to seek professional advice when creating a Will to avoid such pitfalls.  Our fees for making a single Will are £135 plus VAT or £220 plus VAT to make mirror Wills (usually for couples). The expense incurred at this stage could save your family and/or friends incurring unnecessary expense and stress in the future.

To discuss Wills, please contact one of our lawyers in the Wills and Probate Department:-

Jamie Dobbs- jamie.dobbs@maplessolicitors.com

Jane Mawer- jane.mawer@maplessolicitors.com

Faye Blair- faye.blair@maplessolcitors.com

Or telephone the office 01775 722261 and ask to speak with one of the team


Risks of Making Own Lasting Powers of Attorney image

Risks of Making Own Lasting Powers of Attorney

In today’s environment we are all looking at areas of our lives where we can save money, whether that is our weekly shop at the supermarket or shopping around for cheaper utility providers. In some cases, people are also looking at the possibility of carrying out some of their own legal work where traditionally they would have appointed a lawyer to act on their behalf.

It is worth remembering that lawyers have undertaken many years of extensive training and, in some cases, built up many years of experience to provide full advice, taking into account the risks and benefits involved.

Although it is possible to make your own Lasting Powers of Attorney, the risks of doing so without having an experienced lawyer instructed to create the Lasting Power of Attorney on your behalf can be very serious.

One of the risks is if the Lasting Powers of Attorney are rejected by the Office of the Public Guardian at the point they are registered. There are thousands of Lasting Powers of Attorney rejected at this stage each year and if this is the case the Office of the Public Guardian will retain the registration fee submitted and require a further registration fee when the corrected application is made. Whilst having to incur a second registration is frustrating, the matter could be made worse if the person whose Lasting Power of Attorney is sought to be registered no longer has capacity. If capacity has been lost then a Lasting Power of Attorney cannot be made and the alternative to this (known as a Deputyship Order) is a very expensive, often running into the thousands of pounds, and time consuming process.

Another common situation is where a Lasting Power of Attorney has been created without legal assistance and is successfully registered at the Office of the Public Guardian. Some time later when the Lasting Power of Attorney is needed to be used there may be errors within the document or some incomplete sections which means banks and other organisations will not accept the document. Again, if the person in question no longer has capacity then they cannot make a new Lasting Power of Attorney. As stated previously, the only option available in this situation is the expensive and time consuming Deputyship Order. The Deputyship Order takes a number of months to be obtained which can cause difficulties for the family ensuring that bills continue to be paid which could cause cash flow problems for themselves.

Whilst certain areas of Lasting Powers of Attorney are relatively simple to complete, there are other areas of the form that are less simple. Indeed, there are some areas where it is advised that legal advice should be taken.

Another role of a solicitor when acting for a client making Lasting Powers of Attorney is to be alert for any potential undue influence or even fraud. A lawyer will attend upon the client and discuss the Lasting Powers of Attorney in detail to ensure they have understood the principles of Lasting Powers of Attorney, any implications and that it is something they are wanting to do themselves rather than a forceful third party exerting undue influence on them to do something they are not comfortable with. Sadly, there are cases where Lasting Powers of Attorney have been fraudulently made (such as being prepared and signed by someone with the person in question having no knowledge that it had ever been made so that the “attorneys” can then access bank accounts). With a lawyer instructed then we can safeguard against this since all of our clients are identified to ensure they are the person they are claiming to be.

As with most cost saving exercises, making your own Lasting Power of Attorney could result in being a false economy. The costs of rectifying errors, whether that be making a new Lasting Power of Attorney or the situation arising where a Deputyship Order is required, are unnecessary and expensive.

Our costs for dealing with Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) are as follows:-

One LPA will be £350 plus VAT
Two LPAs will be £500 plus VAT
Any additional LPAs will be charged at £100 plus VAT.

Therefore, if a husband and wife decide to create both Property and Financial Affairs LPAs and Health and Welfare LPA’s (a total of four documents) then our total charges will be £700 plus VAT.

The document must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian for which there is an £82 court fee per document. It may be possible to apply for an exemption of this court fee if you are in receipt of certain benefits and this will be discussed during your initial meeting

To discuss Lasting Powers of Attorney, please contact one of our lawyers in the Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Probate Department:-

Jamie Dobbs- jamie.dobbs@maplessolicitors.com
Jane Mawer- jane.mawer@maplessolicitors.com
Faye Blair- faye.blair@maplessolcitors.com

Or telephone the office 01775 722261 and ask to speak with one of the team.

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