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Increases in DIY Wills During the Pandemic Leading to More Family Disputes
*This is a collaborative post – for more details please see my Disclosure Policy
Despite the fact that, for many parts of the world, the Covid-19 pandemic is now largely relegated to the past, its effects are still being keenly felt. The most obvious instance of this lies in the healthcare industry where delays and staff and bed shortages remain a big issue for the NHS – and other healthcare systems internationally. But there are plenty of less obvious areas still struggling to recover from those many months of turmoil.
This is particularly true in the world of family law and inheritance disputes. Although, at first glance, it may not seem obvious why.
But, even now, will dispute solicitors are seeing the fallout of several years’ worth of interruptions to life as normal. Here’s what you need to know.
Why Covid-19 Caused a Rise in DIY Wills
Everybody responded to the news of a highly contagious and virulent airborne disease differently. But many of us were united in the fact that it forced us to come face to face with the idea of losing a loved one or passing away and leaving our loved ones without the help and resources they’d need. With so many people delaying thinking about writing a will until much later in life, the coronavirus pandemic was an unpleasant wake-up call to face the very thing that, so far, many had managed to ignore.
But the world was in upheaval. The escalating headlines combined with multiple lockdowns, unpredicted redundancies, and lost incomes meant that many were left looking for a quick, simple, and lower-cost alternative to working with a solicitor.
The DIY will is just that – or, more specifically, it is marketed as just that. Quick, simple, easy – an unpleasant task made as painless as possible.
People could order a will kit or complete their entire will online in as little as 15 minutes. If that sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is – and was. DIY wills simplify an inherently complex process. They cannot match up to the guidance offered by experienced solicitors with backgrounds in family law.
How DIY Wills Cause Family Disputes
Compared with a will created under the guidance of a solicitor, DIY wills are far more likely to be unclear, vague, miss key assets, or feature mistakes that render them legally invalid. Often, these mistakes are simple clerical issues. But they’re still enough to leave the testator’s entire estate to the rules of intestacy.
But, even if the DIY is considered legally valid, issues with clarity or scope should not be underestimated. It may be that one beneficiary feels they were promised more and that those promises were not reflected in the will. It may be that the testator’s wording leaves the door open for arguments, or even suspicions of foul play. Coercion, fraud, and undue influence are all possible. And, in some cases, a crumb-trail of clues is left in these documents.
Solicitors know how to avoid those controversies. DIY will writers are not equipped to anticipate the many different issues that can arise around poorly drafted wills.