A DIY will kit can seem like a cost-effective way to ensure that your financial affairs are properly managed after your death. But is it really that easy? Most DIY will kit providers make it seem relatively straightforward, but please remember that it's in the company's best interests to do so. After all, they are selling you a product, and they want to make the product look easy to use while still being effective. There are instances when a DIY will kit is an appropriate option, but there are also times when it can lead to disputes. So what are the benefits and downsides to a DIY will kit?
A DIY will kit is only truly straightforward when you have minimal beneficiaries. If you're childless and wish to leave all your assets to your spouse or partner, then it's a perfectly efficient option. If you wish to divide all your assets equally between your children, then it's also absolutely effective. It's when you have multiple beneficiaries inheriting multiple assets that a DIY will kit can be found lacking.
If you wish to divide your assets between family, friends, charitable groups, and other organisations, then a solicitor-drafted will is the best best. These are infinitely less likely to be seen as ambiguous, and disputed wills are a rarity in this case. Your intentions are clear as to who should receive what. The solicitor can also update your will if your circumstances should change, such as in the event of a divorce.
Amendments to the Will
A DIY will kit can be updated, but this needs to be done properly. You cannot simply make amendments and expect them to be adhered to. Each change needs to be properly and clearly worded, and officially witnessed. If you've completed a DIY will kit and your circumstances change, you are better off declaring the will to be void and drafting an entirely new document.
An ambiguous or improperly worded will can lead to significant delays in probate. Probate occurs when the court recognises the validity of the will and accepts the appointed executor (a person chosen by you to carry out the terms of the will, namely the division and delivery of assets). If the will is ambiguous or improperly worded (which can occur with DIY will kits), then probate might not be granted. The named beneficiaries often need to make an application to receive a fair share of the assets, and this fair share will be determined by the courts. This fair share might not be in line with your intentions. The beneficiaries will need to pay for their own legal costs for this, and might also be left in limbo while this happens, particularly if ownership of a property is disputed. This might be the very home in which they live.
So while a DIY will kit can be beneficial if your affairs are extremely straightforward, it can often be wise to have the document prepared by a solicitor. This will greatly simplify proceedings and ensures that your intentions are followed after you're gone.