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Homemade Wills

17 August 2016

What do you like most about summer? For me it’s home grown strawberries. Although thinking about it, not much comes close to my mum’s strawberry jam. Except perhaps picking the strawberries. And for that matter the jam making itself is fun.

Perhaps I should not choose between them, and just say that some things are best homemade. Everyone seems to think that the tea they brew tastes better than anyone else’s. And surely no one makes a birthday card for a grandparent better than their own grandchildren?

Of course sometimes things go wrong. Anyone who has tried home brewing beer or wine knows quite how much work must go into sterilising: get it wrong, and the whole batch is ruined.

With homemade there is also the risk that you might not get quite what you expected. I am not blaming my mother, but marmalade on scones with clotted cream isn’t quite the same, and in my defence the label just said “July 2015”. Don’t get me wrong: the marmalade is the best in the world and the strawberry jam is fantastic, and both were labelled with the best intentions. The meaning was just unclear.

It is also a great time of year for treating the car to a hand wash at home, which on a hot day turns into extended splash time for the whole family. Though sometimes the children end up cleaner than the car.

By now you might well be thinking what you like best about summer is a legal review with no law in it! The trouble is that with homemade Wills, there are so many potential pitfalls and problems we couldn’t begin to describe them all. Certainly a tiny mistake can lead to a catastrophic failing: not just ruining the batch, but leaving a bitter taste in the whole family. The wrong jam is one thing, a Will clause that inadvertently leaves an estate to the wrong beneficiary, or is not properly signed and invalid altogether is quite another. Once you have gone it is too late to rectify.

"With Wills the cost of putting right mistakes or confusion often runs into £10,000s, full blown inheritance disputes can cost £100,000s."

Home car maintenance was once common, but if you did fix your own brakes you wouldn’t test them on the motorway. Vehicles, like our tax and succession law, are just too complex now, and the consequences of getting it wrong are too serious. Nor is it cheaper in the long run, though it might seem to be in the short term. With Wills the cost of putting right mistakes or confusion often runs into £10,000s, full blown inheritance disputes can cost £100,000s.

We all know it is thoughtfulness and love which make a grandchild’s birthday card or mum’s jam what they are. The lasting legacies of a homemade Will which is unclear, or turns out to be invalid, or inadvertently revokes a gift that should have been kept, are confusion, hurt and frustration that no one can go back and get it done professionally.

For further advice on Wills, please contact a member of our Asset & Wealth Protection team, call 01483 543210 or alternatively email enquiries@barlowrobbins.com