Why are Romford will writing lawyers not worried about the growth of DIY legal forms?
Have you ever questioned the need for your solicitor to draft documents when the internet (and before that retail chains) provides “professionally drafted” DIY legal forms – wills, leases, separation agreements, divorces and other legal documents – often available at the click of a mouse?
These documents are often available at a minimal cost. However the problem with drafting even seemingly simple legal documents is that people get it wrong.
Take a simple probate matter, on the face of the home made Will Miss X left her whole estate to her brother Y. It appeared to have been signed correctly by Miss X and two witnesses. It was a simple one page document – what could go wrong? However the Probate Registry (as they often do) raised a query when Probate was applied for and the witnesses were contacted to verify that they had each signed the Will in each others presence and that of the deceased. Unfortunately they confirmed this was not the case and the Will was completely invalidated.
There is no saving provision for such documents even thought the intention of Miss X was to leave her whole state to her brother Mr Y was clear.
The clear intent of Miss X did not override Intestacy rules which then applied when there is no valid Will to follow. This meant that brother Y who had stood to inherit £1 million under the Will now only collected £200,000 as the rest was shared with his three brothers and sisters who were not (intentionally) named in the Will. A net loss to him of £800,000.
The cost of a professional drawn and witnessed Will? from £250 plus VAT.
To add to the misery of Mr Y the wasted cost of dealing with the failed attempt to obtained Probate for the invalidated Will and obtaining Letters of Adminstration far exceeded the cost of obtaining a Will in the first place. False economy indeed.
Incorrectly signed or witnessed wills commonly give rise to such problems but many other documents can be created with errors or ommissions – even if this does not invalidated them entirely they often lead to disputes. Who do you turn to when there is a dispute about a legal document? The lawyers.
So this is why lawyers are not worried about DIY forms because they earn more from fixing mistakes or litigation that they do if they prepare it properly in the first place.