One of the most important legal documents that you will ever make in your lifetime is your Will – why would you cut corners and use a Will Kit?
We regularly see clients who tell us they have made their own Will using a “Do It Yourself” (DIY) Will Kit which they purchased from the local Newsagent or Post Office. There is also a rising incidence of online free or cheap Wills. Wills & Estates Department Manager, Donna Tolley, discusses the downside of this important issue.
The disadvantages of these types of Wills are numerous and far outweigh any saving in costs to the client. Your Estate (or your Executors) will end up paying far more money to Lawyers trying to fix up the mistakes that are made using these kits. However, be warned – not all mistakes can be fixed! There have been many home-made DIY Wills that have been struck down completely with the deceased ruled to have died intestate. This can lead to unintended family members or an ex-spouse inheriting your assets.
Some disadvantages of Will Kits are:
- The instructions provided in Will Kits can be very confusing to a person who is not legally trained and can result in a poorly drafted Will which does not dispose of the Will Maker’s entire estate, or worse still, the Will refers to assets which do not actually form part of the Will Maker’s estate such as superannuation, company and trust assets;
- Issues which should be carefully considered such as adequate provision for your spouse and children, taxation, superannuation, appointment of Executors and Trustees and alternate distribution in the event of the failure of prior bequests are not adequately covered in most Will Kit instructions and very difficult to explain;
- Will Kits fail to provide the expert advice which a skilled Estate Planning Lawyer can give and this is particularly important if a person’s family circumstances are complicated (e.g. blended families; beneficiaries with disabilities; spendthrifts; unsavoury partners; etc);
- Will Kit Wills are more often than not incorrectly signed and witnessed and this can result in an invalid Will. For example, we have encountered two Will Kit Wills which were made by a defacto couple using forms which they purchased from their local Post Office. Unfortunately, the couple signed each other’s Will in error thereby rendering both Wills invalid. This situation could easily have been avoided if the Wills were prepared and signed at a Lawyer’s office;
- Will makers often do not fully understand the terminology used in Will Kits and can misinterpret the instructions, resulting in ambiguity and substantial costs and delay in administration of the estate (usually due to Court orders needed to clarify the terms of the Will);
- Most Will Kits fail to inform the Will Maker of the strict legal formalities which must be adhered to when completing and signing the Will, once again resulting in difficulties and increased costs in the administration of the estate;
- The succession laws differ from State to State whereas Will Kits are generic and do not set out the different laws which can apply.
We believe it is imperative that you consult an experienced Wills & Estates Lawyer in relation to making your Will so as to ensure your wishes are properly recorded in a legally binding document. This will save your family a lot of trouble and avoid paying out thousands of dollars in legal costs.
Please contact our Wills and Estates Department Manager, Donna Tolley on direct line 07 5506 8241, email firstname.lastname@example.org or free call 1800 621 071 to book your free 30 minutes estate planning review appointment with one of our dedicated Estate Planning lawyers.
We have a dedicated Wills and Estates team that practices exclusively in this complicated area. Please click here to access our team brochure with details of our professional staff.