You may be thinking to yourself, “What is to stop me from writing a will and obtaining probate yourself without using a solicitor?”
Technically the answer is ‘nothing really’. There is no legal requirement for a will to be written or witnessed by a solicitor, which explains the popularity of will kits or the use of online will writers.
However when obtaining probate the answer is only ‘possibly.’ This answer assumes that there is no inheritance tax payable, no likelihood of a dispute or claim against the estate and you are aware of all the assets and liabilities and the duty of care imposed on you.
A DIY will may seem like a good way to save a few pounds and most high street stores will happily sell you sell a ‘will making kit’.
However many of these DIY will packs require additional forms to be downloaded from the internet, likely at an extra cost, that’s not included in the cover price.
Research undertaken by the Legal Services Board (LSB) for a BBC Radio 4 show in April 2012 showed that 20% of these DIY wills contained mistakes.
While it may seem cheaper in the short term, your DIY may cause problems in the future which may mean you spend a significant figure on legal costs to sort the issues out. Any cost savings that may have been involved by not using a solicitor in the first place was wiped out by the expense of having to hire one and pay the costs required to rectify things.
A significant number of home-made or DIY wills never even get as far as the Probate Registry. This can be for a huge number of reasons: They are not signed or witnessed properly, the beneficiaries acted as witnesses, the wives or husbands of beneficiaries acted as witnesses.
By using a reputable firm of solicitors and spending some money at the time the will is made, expensive mistakes like these can be avoided.