One question I am asked a lot is whether you should see a Solicitor to have your Will completed or if you can use an online Will Kit or buy the kit from the Post Office. The thought process involved is usually along the lines of “Why should I pay a Solicitor to write my Will when I can do it myself for $30 with a DIY will kit?”
In my experience in defending and contesting Wills, I strongly recommend seeing a Solicitor to have your Will completed. I know how wrong Wills can go. I know how the grief of losing a loved one can become a second priority when the contents and way their Will was drafted (or not drafted at all!) becomes a legal mind field.
In saying that, DIY Will kits are still everywhere. I agree that on the face of it, these DIY will kits are appealing, for their low price, convenience and speed of the process. However, the rate at which these documents are causing problems when needing to be relied upon is constantly rising.
In my opinion the main dangers of using a DIY Will Kit are:
1. The issues that may arise with the drafting of a Will through a Will kit usually only are realised after you have passed away, when it is too late for any of your loved ones to fix it. In these situations, the cost to the Estate in resolving these issues can escalate quickly, diminishing what is to be left to your family to enjoy. This is heartbreaking for all involved. You want your loved ones to be able to grieve when you pass and not have the added stress of an Estate dispute or complication.
2. The Will is incorrectly signed and witnessed, and this causes your Will to be totally invalid, as if you had not completed a Will at all.
3. The Will kits do not consider contingencies. Such as your Executor has died or does not want the role and there is no substitute nominated. This leaves your Estate without anyone to take charge, look after your assets and the beneficiaries you intended to benefit from your Estate.
4. Because the Will is written in your own words without an specialised training or expertise, the Will is ambiguous, meaning that a specific gift fails, therefore being possibly gifted to the wrong person or someone not receiving a portion of your Estate that you had intended.
5. The Will attempts to include superannuation which is not a part of the assets that can be divided and administered by someone’s Will. By including superannuation, you could disadvantage a beneficiary unintentionally.
6. The Will attempts to do something which is not enforceable, such as disinheriting your child, placing unreasonable conditions on the gift or giving incorrect powers to the executor which then leaves your Estate open to litigation.
7. Not naming Guardians for your children which could potentially leave your children without direction and care after your passing and could lead to dispute within your family as to the preferred carer of your children.
8. The assets gifted to children under 18 are not correctly set up to be held on trust for them. Which could mean that a beneficiary receives the benefit of your Estate before they are financially responsible enough to invest it or use it wisely.
The team at Family Focus Legal feel strongly about correct and considered Estate Planning. Your Will is the only legal document which will be considered after you are no longer here to interpret it – so you need to get it right!
We have years of experience in helping people secure the future of their families and ensure their wishes are respected and followed after they have passed away.
To make an appointment with Family Focus Legal
call (02) 4655 4224 or