An interesting case is presently before the Chancery Court - and may soon be with the criminal court pending a referral for investigation - due to an allegedly lost, homemade will.
With one side of a family arguing that their deceased father never made a will and that the estate should pass equally between children under the intestacy rules, and the other seeking to prove a will allegedly made by the deceased shortly before his death, but where the only evidence is from lay 'witnesses' that the court has deemed not to have credibility, it is a salutary reminder that the costs of preparing a will with an independent and professional firm can save costs later on.
The costs saved aren't just the 'hard' costs of legal advice or bringing a claim through the court (although I daresay the court would welcome any steps to reduce their administrative and practical burdens in such cases!). The costs extend to the time, the stress, the delay and the sense, probably shared by all parties regardless as to their position, that they are or have been 'hard done to' by the process and that the deceased 'would never have wanted this' and possible feelings of guilt or anger, the loss of family relationships and the souring of wider familial relationships if people feel forced to take sides.
In short, whilst the costs of making a well-advised and professionally drafted will are not cheap - they are significantly cheaper than a protracted and messy battle and a sensible investment now for a protected future.
And storing the original will with those professionals could also avoid arguments over the provenance of documents and issues around whether a document has been lost - or should be presumed revoked.
High Court judge has lamented a contested probate claim between ‘warring siblings’ without legal representation, which has spawned at least 12 court orders so far. In Face v Cunningham & Anor, His Honour Judge David Hodge QC said that navigating bundles produced by the claimant – who represented herself for much of the litigation – was a ‘complete nightmare’ and evidence produced by her witnesses was ‘pure fiction’.