Can they ever compete?
‘Homemade’ conjures up warm and fuzzy sensations of good things, high quality valued things – and it’s often the case. Homemade Shepherd’s pie instead of shop bought. You know what I mean….. But what about homemade Wills?
Some things, however, really are better when they aren’t homemade. Wills for example. There is so much scope for error and for your intentions to be misinterpreted if the words aren’t totally clear in a legal sense.
In a recent case, a dispute arose which involved the meaning of “all my money” in a homemade Will. Did it mean, as it suggests, just the cash? Or did it include the value of a house too? There had been gifts in the lifetime that weren’t brought into account and there was no other gift of the house in the Will so if it didn’t who got the house?
Some years ago I acted in the estate of a serviceman who had been killed in action. The Army had made him use a form to make a Will before he went abroad, but he didn’t know how to word it. His homemade Will said “all to my children” but after that it suggested “and some for my parent’s mortgage”. Fair enough you might think. He left about £100,000.00 and the mortgage was well over that. Did the children get anything? Yes, they did, but it caused a huge family rift in the process.
Errors creep in about how Wills have to be signed too. If they aren’t correct, then they may not be suitable for getting the Grant of Probate (a legal document that confirms who has authority to deal with the deceased persons assets). So they fail and the estate passes under the intestacy rules, meaning that it can pass to people you didn’t intend or expect or even want to include, in some cases. It can have nasty tax consequences too.
Sometimes shop-bought is just better, more convenient and good value for money!