When an elderly woman decided to change her will, leaving most of her £2.6 million estate to a woman she regarded as her granddaughter, a successful challenge to the will was made.

The deceased woman’s will was home made – and was completed after a firm she had instructed to draw up a will for her had failed to do so.

Her earlier will had left most of her estate to a close friend (now deceased), her cousin and a former GP. Her cousin and the GP claimed that the new will was invalid. Their legal action against the beneficiary under the new will was settled for more than £700,000 including legal costs.

The beneficiary named in the new will then sought compensation from the firm that had failed to give effect to the woman’s instructions.

The firm argued that there was conflicting evidence as to the elderly woman’s mental state and it was waiting to have a face-to-face meeting with her rather than acting on instructions given in a letter typed by the new beneficiary. However, the court found that the firm had been negligent in not acting on its client’s instructions and ordered compensation to be paid to cover the beneficiary’s losses.

Home-made wills may offer a cheap way of letting it be known how you wish your assets to be distributed after your death, but they are often far from clear and can result in family disputes and legal challenges. Having your will drafted by a qualified person subject to proper professional regulation, who can discuss with you your precise wishes in order to execute a will that is clear and unequivocal, is both sensible and very inexpensive compared with the cost of arguing in court.

If you are seeking to write or amend your will, we provide a professional service at a reasonable cost and give you the peace of mind that comes from having your will drafted by qualified specialists.