Are DIY Wills A False Economy?

Writing your own Will has become quite a popular idea, especially since the economic downturn, with many people looking to cut costs in all areas of their lives. Most people consider the use of a ‘Do It Yourself’ Will kit to be completely safe, but is this really true?

Whilst writing a Will with a DIY kit may seem like an easy thing to do, the reality is not so straight forward. The consequences of your cost savings may not come to light until after you die, when the results could be devastating for your family members.

There are many simple mistakes which can be made using a DIY Will kit and whilst they may seem relatively minor, in reality, they can render your Will null and void and mean that you die intestate, leaving the Government to determine how to divide your estate.

The effects of dying intestate can mean that your spouse will only inherit a percentage of your total estate, which could result in financial issues which were completely unintentional on your part.

In addition, if both you and your partner die and your children need a legal guardian, if your Will is not valid due to a mistake you made when writing it, your children may be placed into care and a court will decide where they will live without any of your wishes being considered.

Some of the more common mistakes made when drafting a DIY Will are:

  • Signing a Will and using witnesses who stand to inherit from the estate (meaning that they will be unable to do so);
  • Not updating a Will properly following births, marriage or divorce; and
  • Not having a tax efficient Will, meaning more inheritance tax is payable than might otherwise be necessary.

So you can see that making a Will yourself exposes you and your family to a certain amount of risk of your Will being invalidated as a result of any mistakes or omissions you’ve made. Therefore, using a specialist solicitor to draft your Will for you will protect your loved ones and ensure that their future is safeguarded once you die. In most cases this will be a small price to pay in comparison to the risks of a DIY Will.

 

This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a fully qualified Solicitor before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.

Shak Inayat
Solicitor
0207 183 2898

Same Sex Marriage And The Law

At the end of March, the first same sex weddings took place in England and Wales with David Cameron confirming his support saying that it demonstrated Britain’s ‘proud traditions of respect, tolerance and equal worth’.

Whilst equality in marriage may divide opinion, in addition to this there are implications for the laws around marriage in England and Wales with the introduction of same sex marriage.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 allows same sex couples in England and Wales to:

  • Marry in a civil ceremony
  • Be married by a religious organisation which agrees to undertake the ceremony
  • Convert any civil partnership into a marriage if they wish to
  • Allow an individual to change their gender without needing to end their marriage

The Act also protects any religious organisation from having to carry out same sex marriages if they do not wish to.

So these amendments all seem relatively straight forward and they are, but there are some exceptions that do not apply to same sex marriages.

The first exception is that same sex couples will not be able to divorce on the grounds of adultery, because the law defines adultery as a sexual relationship outside of marriage with someone of the opposite sex. The second exception is that a same sex marriage cannot be annulled on the grounds of non-consummation.

In addition to these exceptions, pension rights are currently not equal, but this will need to be reviewed and reported on by the Secretary of State by 1st July this year.

This also brings into question the place of civil partnerships in England and Wales and whether couples of opposite sex should be allowed to have a civil partnership rather than just the option to marry. Again, the Secretary of State will need to review this and consult on the options.

As the law only applies to England and Wales, same sex marriage is currently treated as a civil partnership in Northern Ireland. Scotland is currently debating this issue in the hope that it also becomes law there.

 

This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a fully qualified Solicitor before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.

Shak Inayat
Solicitor
0207 183 2898