WHERE THERE’S A WILL…
Mark Jones, Personal Law partner at LCF Law, outlines the problem with homemade Wills.
P roblems can arise in relation to a homemade Will where the wording used does not have the legal effect that was intended.
Two examples of clauses I have come across in homemade Wills that have led to problems are:
“I give my house to my wife and then to my children”. On the face of it, this appears to try to give away the same asset twice, or does it mean that the wife simply has the use of the house during her lifetime? Perhaps it means that the children take the house if the Wife dies before the person making the Will (known as the Testator).
“I give my farm to my son John or if he dies before me to his wife”. The problem here was that at the time that the Testator made the Will his son was married to a wife whom the Testator was close to but the son subsequently divorced, married a second wife whom the Testator did not like at all and then died before the Testator. Which wife should get the farm?
William Shakespeare’s Will contained another example of a clause that could lead to some ambiguity. He left a gift of his “second best bed” to his wife. I would be interested to know who decided which of his beds was the second best and, also, who he left the better one to!
The important point to take heed of is that homemade Wills might seem like an economy but they can often lead to a great deal of trouble and expense further down the line.
Drafting clauses that have the legal effect intended is a specialist skill which solicitors go through several years of training to acquire.
Do not undervalue a document which may be one of the most important you will ever sign.
Take proper advice and have your Will prepared by a solicitor.