A regional law firm that ranks among the top 500 law firms in England and Wales has warned that the current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted an increase in the number of invalid Wills being made.
Lisa Jones, a Senior Solicitor with GHP Legal which has five offices serving clients in Shropshire and North and Mid Wales, says it is a tragedy and people simply don’t realise that an invalid Will means they will die intestate and the state will decide what happens to their assets.
“We have had first-hand experience of this happening at GHP Legal”, she says, “and sadly it is usually due to people using online Will forms and not getting proper instruction and advice.
“The requirements for writing a valid will are set out in the Wills Act 1837 and they are very specific. If those requirements are not met, a will can be declared invalid and the estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy. This invariably results in people whom the deceased had intended to benefit not doing so.
“In some cases, the deceased’s estate even goes to persons whom the deceased would definitely not have wanted to benefit. And whilst overturning the rules of intestacy is not impossible, it is a costly and lengthy process. I would therefore advise everyone to seek proper legal advice when making a Will.
“There is no doubt that the number of people making Wills is at an all-time high due to the coronavirus pandemic. Similarly, the number of people making Lasting Powers of Attorney. A surge in the number of people taking the DIY approach to making Wills could be because they think solicitors are not working during lockdown. This is however not the case. It is ‘business as usual’, albeit most solicitors are working via telephone and email rather than face to face.”