A young person made a Will using a DIY online Will kit.  Unfortunately they passed away in an accident some years later.  A family member found the Will in the deceased’s filing cabinet and took it to a lawyer to administer the estate.

The lawyer advised that the deceased had, in error, included themselves as Executor in the Will, without any backup person listed. It appeared they had become confused about what an Executor was. 

The Executor is the person who manages the deceased’s estate, so of course it is not possible to administer your own estate once you are gone!

That part of the Will was therefore invalid, so the lawyer had to apply to the Court for Letters of Administration with Will Annexed, which is a much more costly and time consuming application than simply applying for Probate of a valid Will.

Through that Court process, the closest surviving family member had to be appointed as Administrator.  In this case, it was the deceased’s father, who the deceased didn’t get on with during their lifetime, who was the closest surviving family member. He was appointed to administer the estate.  This would not have been what the deceased wanted.

This could have been avoided if the deceased had taken advice from a lawyer when drafting their DIY Will, or had that lawyer draft the Will for them.  This would have been much more cost-effective in the long run as their estate would not have had to follow the more expensive and difficult process above.  The deceased would have been able to choose who their Executor was in that case, rather than having this dictated by law.

A Will is an important legal document which sets out how your money, assets, and personal belongings will be dealt with, and how family members under your care will be taken care of should you pass away.

Your Will should also cover powers you have under a trust, and any companies you are director or shareholder of, depending on the powers you have under those documents.

Wills need to be drafted and witnessed correctly in order to be valid, and any mistakes and gaps in your Will might mean your wishes are not carried out, and/or that a more complex process needs to be followed when you pass away, as above, which will cost your estate more money and create further stress for those you have left behind.

In some cases, if you pass away with a Will that is invalid, your lawyer and Executor might be able to apply to the Court to declare your DIY Will valid, but this depends on how serious the issue is.

Some examples of DIY wills gone wrong that we have seen include:

  •          Appointing themselves as an Executor as above
  •          Confusing a Will with a Power of Attorney, and adding wishes in the event of becoming mentally                        incapable in their Will
  •          Not appointing a guardian for infant children meaning default provisions will apply, which can be                       problematic if you don’t get on with the other parent of your child/ren.
  •          Letting the Executor decide what to do with the remainder/balance of the estate (this is not acceptable           as there needs to be certainty in a Will).

It is therefore crucial that you seek help from a legal professional regarding your Will as it will offer a peace of mind that the decisions being made on your estate and family upon your death are as per your wishes.


Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.