Wills are Vital Documents
Wills are vital documents, but the very fact of their high importance means that they must be completed to rigorous standards in order for them to ‘hold water’ when it is time for the individual’s wishes to be executed. This is why it is never advisable – even with relatively simple estates – to opt to create a ‘DIY will’, rather than working with a solicitor with a strong background in inheritance law. While leaving no will is complicated enough, leaving a poorly written will is, at times, even more detrimental.
From minor mistakes to major omissions and oversights, there are many, many different reasons why your will could be called into question and put at the centre of a lengthy and frustrating legal battle, following your death.
Here are the most common.
Concerns over your mental capacity
There is a good reason why solicitors will urge you to write your will now, rather than at an undefined point in the future. If a will is composed reactively – for instance, when the individual is already unwell and nearing the end of their life – then there is a chance that a dispute could arise over their testamentary capacity if the contents of the will are contested down the line.
For this reason, it is always better to create a will as soon as possible, and with the guidance of experienced will dispute solicitors who can ensure everything is completed as it should be.
Clerical issues (lack of due execution)
To that end, working with a solicitor who holds extensive experience in this area means that you needn’t worry about the ramifications of even a (seemingly) minor clerical error.
These errors are known under the phrase ‘lack of due execution’, and can refer to mistakes made during the writing, signing, and witnessing of the will. As you can imagine, they are far more common in instances where the will was written without the guidance and expertise of a solicitor.
While meeting these requirements may seem relatively unimportant from the outside, mistakes can be seen as indications that the will was not composed under the right conditions and can easily undermine an otherwise clear and carefully thought-out document.
Suspected fraud or forgery
Unfortunately, there are times when someone close to an individual finds a way to fake a signature or make unauthorised changes to their will. It can be difficult to prove, and accusations will, inevitably, lead to some complicated relationships within what may once have been a strong family unit.
Again, working with a solicitor to create and store your will securely will help to protect yourself and your loved ones from this possibility.
In some cases, an individual may have been coerced or pressured into going against their own wishes. As in cases where fraudulence or forgery is suspected, this can be difficult to prove, and lead to lengthy court cases for your remaining family.
Ambiguity or oversights
A will may be disputed for rectification and construction, if one of your loved ones feels that the document is too ambiguous or doesn’t truly reflect your wishes. This is why it is incredibly important that you do not attempt to write your will alone – and, of course, that you regularly review and update your will as life, priorities, relationships and financial obligations change.