Off The Shelf Wills Are A False Economy

It may seem tempting to get a ready made Will form from the internet or a shop so you can complete it without the need to consult a lawyer thereby cutting the costs.  This may be somewhat short sighted, however, as the following case in which a woman completed three forms without seeking any legal opinion shows. Divisions were created within her family caused by her decisions.

Over a period of four years the woman completed three different Will forms. The final one was made after she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The three Will forms were slightly different and she left gifts to her children and wanted her home to be sold and named her brother as the beneficiary of the property.

A Grant of Probate was applied for by the brother although he did not identify which of the three Wills he was relying on. The son challenged the validity of all of the Wills, primarily on the grounds that the witnesses had not seen the woman sign the Wills and therefore they fell foul of the compliance regulations set by Wills Act 1837.

The Court heard evidence that the woman did not leave her home by the time the last two Wills were signed by her. A claim by her brother that the woman had visited the witnesses was discovered to be untrue, although he had had many opportunities to get her signature when she was alone with him. Despite this, the son’s assertion that this made the last three Wills invalid was not accepted.

There are on-going arguments regarding the woman’s mental capacity and the son’s belief that the brother had manipulated her into signing the Wills will be considered at a separate hearing. The cost of sorting out the Wills will far exceed the cost of seeking professional advice when making a Will in the first place.

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