Save yourself the heartache of a homemade will

Yet another case hits the headlines of how homemade wills have fallen foul of the law - and another reminder as to why it’s always best to seek advice from professionals.

Wrong “school” of thought

An article in the Times this month told of how a former pupil had supposedly “faked” the will of her former headmistress at the private school she attended in her early years.

Leigh Voysey, now 42, told the High Court that the late Maureen Renny, favoured her as a pupil during her time at the Barn School in Hertfordshire. She also told the Court her former headmistress had asked her to draft her will and get it witnessed by a friend of hers in 2019, allowing her to inherit Renny’s £1.65 million home - something Voysey insisted was something Renny wanted to prevent it from being sold off to developers.

This was a decision that subsequently left out  Remmy’s other relatives, who took Voysey to Court to contest the will. A former will dated in 2016 named Renny’s cousins and stepchildren as beneficiaries, but the new will, drafted in 2020 just four months before Renny died at age 82, names Voysey as the person to inherit the property.

In denial

However, Voysey denies any wrong doing and said her former headmistress had spoken to her on several occasions about what she’d thought of the property - her home that was the former school house. She’d told Renny that she “loved it” and had many fond memories of her childhood there.

Voysey also claims Renny said to her there was a “blank will on the table in the lounge” and that Renny was free to write what she wanted on it.

Defending Renny’s family, Kate Sleway QC said this had to be an “impossibility” because at the time Voysey claims this took place, Renny was so frail she could barely get out of her chair or even use the telephone.

Selway also highlighted that due to the proximity to the death of Maureen Renny, the will couldn’t be valid as Renny would have lacked the mental capacity to be able to draft and sign a will that was legally binding.

Long-term pain for short term gain

Yes, there are cost advantages to DIY wills, but they lose you money in the long run when you have to contest the will - and we have seen time and time again how DIY will disputes often end up in Court.

I really cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure your will is drafted and signed appropriately. It is possibly one of the most important legal documents you can own, so why wouldn’t you make sure it is watertight?

While you’re drafting, checking or updating your will, make sure you’ve done this to include any children or step children if you remarry to ensure no family members are unwittingly disinherited. The fact Renny had a stepson, with his own children, indicates how important this is. If you remarry, you must protect your children’s future, as well as those of your new spouse.

Talk to us

Contested will is a growing area and solicitors are often kept very busy dealing with the fallout from homemade wills. Sadly, during covid, many more DIY wills were likely to be made as people made hasty preparations in the worry that they might become unwell. If your will is invalid, it could leave a legacy of turmoil for your family.

Contact Downs Solicitors for more help and advice relating to the drafting of your own will.

Liz Dalgetty

Liz Dalgetty

Consultant Solicitor & Notary Public

Tel: +44 (0) 1306 502251

Office: Dorking Office