DIY ………. appeals to many these days, and although some are really keen to learn a new skill, most DIYers are trying to save money. This often means that the job may not be done to the same standard as a trained, experienced person who complies with any relevant legislation.
However, legal services, for example making a Will, or Probate work are very dangerous areas for the DIYer to dabble in. Much of the information on the Internet is inaccurate, incomplete or out of date, sometimes put there by unqualified people. Some DIYers buy forms from stationers and fill them in without any advice or guidance from a specialist – or buy a self-help book to get assistance. How many of those books are up to date I wonder? Maybe where someone’s affairs are very simple, the advice and guidance would be sufficient – but life is more complex nowadays. How do you know if you fall into the straightforward category or not?
Over the years we have been in practice we have come across many ‘home-made’ Wills that are drawn up incorrectly, open to misinterpretation, or just invalid. Many are not signed and witnessed correctly rendering them invalid, and of course the person who indulged in this bit of DIY has since died, oblivious of the mess left behind.
Similarly, when someone dies, there are a lot of booklets and forms to guide people through the Probate procedure. However, the amount of mistakes and omissions that often come to light later on indicates how dangerous DIYing these matters can be. For example, a surprise demand from the taxman or a potential claim by a disgruntled family member. Also, DIYers rarely have the knowledge and skills to deal with future Estate planning for the family of a bereaved person, in particular in connection with Inheritance Tax or Long Term Care matters and property issues.
Lawyers spend years studying and gaining professional qualifications and are committed to continuing professional development to keep improving knowledge and skills so that they can give the best advice to their clients. I wouldn’t attempt to fill my own teeth, nor would I re-wire my house – these are matters for experts in their particular field. It is the same with legal matters. There are some things in life that are just too important to leave to chance – or DIY fans.