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DIY Will – Perhaps You Should Think Again?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

DIY Wills seem a great idea. For the same cost of your Netflix subscription, you can download one from the website fill it in and think you’re covered.

But is this really the case?

One case recently in the High Court concerned an elderly father who wrote a Will five days before he passed away on a page torn from a notebook, superseding the Will written a year earlier.

The case concerns the Will of Mr. William Tibbles deceased who died at age 75 in February 2018. Mr. Tibbles left behind five children, and a Will dated March 2017 together with a letter of wishes, which left his entire estate to his daughter Terri. The letter of wishes stated that Terri was particularly close to Mr. Tibbles and despite Terri having an identical twin sister and three other siblings, the letter of wishes stated that her sisters were thought to have been a disappointment to their father and that he regarded his son as financially secure in his own right, therefore explaining why he had made no provision for them.

Three days after the death of Mr. Tibbles, his son produced a more recent Will which was made in February 2018, only five days before he passed away, and insisted that this was his father’s last Will. The Will was clearly not drafted by a solicitor and was in fact written on a page torn from a scrap notebook. It appointed Mr. Tibbles’ son as the sole executor and left his estate to be divided between his son and three of his daughters, therefore disinheriting Terri completely. Terri disputed that this Will was either made, approved, or signed by her father, and the matter was eventually heard by the High Court of Justice.

Judge Matthew Marsh found that the Will prepared in 2018 was a mystery as there was no evidence produced during the case as to why Mr. Tibbles may have changed his mind so drastically, or as to whether this Will had been either prepared by Mr. Tibbles (it did not appear to be in his handwriting), approved or signed by him. The Court examined whether the Will may have been dictated by Mr. Tibbles and written by a third party but again, no evidence was provided in this regard. Accordingly, the Court found that there was insufficient evidence of due execution of the Will and it was therefore found to be invalid meaning that the terms of the previous Will dated 2017 stood and Terri inherited the entire estate.

There are many reasons why a Will could be invalid; drafting errors or a failure to draft and execute under the formalities of the Wills Act 1937, a lack of evidence to show that the testator had knowledge and approval of the content, or even whether the testator was of sound mind and was under no undue influence or duress.

Ensure your Will doesn’t fall into any of these categories. Use an expert: a professional Solicitor licensed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

To ensure you are adequately protected from these risks we offer a Free Will Healthcheck call 0800 088 6004 for more information.

Rebecca Littlewood

Posted:

Rebecca Littlewood

Associate Solicitor

Rebecca is an Associate Solicitor within the Private Client team, having qualified in 2009. She has over 10 years experience in drafting and advising on wills, dealing with probate and the administration of estates, advising on inheritance tax, powers of attorney and the creation and…