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Preparing a Will yourself is a potential DIY disaster

Posted: 16th April 2020

There has been reports of people rushing through the process and in some cases preparing a Will themselves but leading Scottish law firm Thorntons is advising caution, stating it is vitally important to get the correct advice and assistance for your circumstances.

Graeme Dickson, Private Client solicitor at Thorntons, said: “If you don’t have a Will, don’t panic, you are not alone but it is important to have one and keep it up to date.

“It can be tempting to just download a template from the internet or quickly draft something yourself, but this can be dangerous. It is vital that you get professional advice on the terms of a Will and have a properly qualified solicitor prepare it for you.

“There are many pitfalls that the unwary can stumble into and at best this means that when you die, those left behind have to go through a more complicated, time consuming and costly process to sort out your affairs. Often the effect, in fact, is that your wishes are not fulfilled or something you specifically did not want to happen occurs instead.

“If you have children or dependents, a wrongly prepared Will can have devastating consequences including having unnecessary tax to pay.

“As well as the actual terms of the Will, there are strict rules about how a Will needs to be signed and witnessed. Often DIY Will templates are prepared using the law of a different legal jurisdiction which can mean the Will is not valid under Scots law. If a Will is not signed properly it could mean that part or all of its terms are deemed to be invalid. It might mean that it is as though you had no Will at all, with all the problems that causes.

“Your relatives could find your estate is distributed under the rules of a piece of legislation that is almost 60 years’ old which may well not reflect your wishes. At best, trying to fix a problem requires going to court and is expensive, time consuming and may not be successful.

“Having a professionally drafted Will by a Solicitor provides you with certainty and peace of mind. You have the benefit of speaking with a solicitor who will take the time to take your instructions, provide proper advice and prepare a Will that addresses your wishes and protects your position.

“The price for doing it correctly is tiny compared with the cost, stress and hassle of resolving things after you die if it’s wrong.

“We know that the current restrictions on movement and social contact create challenges when it comes to signing documents, which is a vital part of a valid Will and Power of Attorney. The Law Society of Scotland and the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) have issued new guidance to deal with this situation and refers to the use of video conferencing to help when no witness is physically present. We can talk you through the signing process and make sure it is done correctly.”

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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