The Hidden Costs of DIY Will Kits

Wills creation may appear to be a straight forward process on a “standard-form” piece of paper. However, this is not the case. In a diverse world with many lifestyle options, it is not surprising that the Wills we leave are equally unique!

Our Wills are one of the most important financial and personal planning documents that we create, especially as we enter new stages of our life such as a new relationship, business venture or retirement. Unfortunately, in spite of this, many Australians still do not have a Will. And whilst some in the legal profession suggest that Will kits and online Will generating sites are better than no Will at all, they simply don’t account for the stress and heartache that “short-cut” Wills potentially provide.

In a society that is constantly time-poor and used to instantaneous solutions, our default position is often to undertake an online search to solve all problems. Thus, when we are planning our Wills, it is perhaps not surprising that we look to one of the increasing number of online Will creation sites.

These sites provide a convenient and easily accessible “one-size fits all” document.  However, making a Will is rarely a standardised process, even for people with minimal assets and few beneficiaries for whom they wish to provide. This is not to suggest that online Wills are not legal or that their provisions are always insufficient.  The simple format may effectively address minor complications in modest estates. The difficulty arises when your needs or personal wishes are more complicated and are not directly addressed in a simple DIY format.

Determining if your wishes create “Complications?”

Complications arise in even the most seemingly straight forward testamentary intentions. For anyone with an unconventional family situation, a blended family, a loved one with a disability, numerous diverse assets, or even concerns that their true intentions to be followed, it is my highest recommendation that you see a qualified lawyer to manage your Will.  In drafting Wills, we must consider that it is our final opportunity to express our wishes and leave a lasting legacy for those dearest to us. Although it is true to say that the less complicated your life is, the less complicated your Will need be, this is not the case for all. Even the simplest of wishes can be hard to effectively communicate and if not clear enough, can lead to future challenges.

Common Mistakes of Will Kits and Online Wills

Some of the most common mistakes that I see as I fix or rewrite Wills that were unsatisfactorily created from a Will kit include:

  • Assuming that they Will die before their spouse and thus not leaving any directions for their assets in case their spouse dies first;
  • Not disposing of all of their assets;
  • Appointing just one executor (usually a spouse), without providing an alternate in case the executor dies first;
  • Appointing an executor with a conflict of interest (like business partners, or family members caught up in some form of family disharmony);
  • Not having the Will correctly witnessed.

The Costs of Challenging Ambiguous or Unlawful Wills

The costs of these mistakes inevitably rests with those who you wish to benefit from your Will. These costs potentially include; inequality in legacies provided for children, court and legal fees for challenged Wills, stress and heartache as a result of the uncertainty as to your true wishes.

Lawyers are professionally trained and experienced in avoiding these mistakes.  We collaborate with clients in the construction of their Wills, to ensure that their wishes are, clearly and carefully expressed in a binding document. The costs of mistakes in Wills are easily avoided by consulting with a qualified lawyer, who can guide you through the process and remove current and future stresses.

Here at Baker Love, we have been serving the clients in Newcastle and The Hunter for 140 years. Our team of highly skilled and experienced solicitors are dedicated to providing the peace of mind and assurance of a quality Will to new and existing clients.

If you would like to speak to us about your will, contact our Estate Planning lawyers on (02) 4944 3322.