The Potential Risk of ‘DIY Wills’
29 August 2014 by Amy Burton
It is generally accepted that being trust-worthy is one of the greatest traits that any human can have. Whether it is between friends or family, trust can truly show how much people think of each other and no example demonstrates this more than taking on the role of an Executor in a Will.
For some people, it is unquestionable that their relatives or friends will be Executors to their Will. However, data from the Chancery Division of the High Court shows that the number of claims lodged with the Court for the failure of Executors to properly carry out their duties has increased from 107 in 2012, to 368 in 2013.
Some may assume that this is caused by untrustworthy people befriending a Testator during their life time and then taking advantage of free access to bank accounts and other assets upon the death of the Testator; but this is seldom the case. One reason why the number of complaints has tripled within the last year is that non-professional Executors are simply not aware of the legal duties involved in acting in this capacity.
As soon as any complicated issues arise, a non-professional Executor may simply do what they think is best in order to resolve the problem, without realising that there are certain legal and procedural steps that need to be taken. This can often lead to further issues and disputes between the beneficiaries of the Testator’s Will.
Often non-professional Executors will take it upon themselves to distribute the Testator’s lifetime possessions and assets. If this is ever challenged by any of the beneficiaries or family members, the Executor can be completely unaware as to their legal obligations. This can sometimes lead to the matter ending up in Court and money from the Testator’s estate disappearing in legal fees.
It is now becoming increasingly common for Testators to have one legal professional in addition to a relative or friend as their Executors. Making a legal professional an Executor of your Will, will ensure that your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes in a cost effective manner.