Wills, Estates & Succession Planning 03 April 2020

Pitfalls of informal Wills and DIY Will kits

The old phrase “you get what you pay for” applies to many things in life, including your estate planning.  With many online ‘DIY Will Kits’ available for free and without the need to speak to a lawyer, it’s important to understand the potential problems such simple Wills can cause after you pass away.

More often than not, the cheaper the service, the simpler the document it will generate and the fewer directions and explanations it will give you as to what the document legally means.  In particular, Will kits and other informal Will options cannot take into account and provide options for complex factors such as superannuation (including Self-Managed Super Funds), interests held in businesses, Family Trusts, and blended family scenarios.

Without a professional to guide you through making your Will, assets might be looked over or the manner of holding incorrectly recorded.  For example, you might think that the family home is held as joint proprietors but in fact it is held in your partner’s sole name or as Tenants in Common.  If this were the case, then inadequate provision might mistakenly be made for your spouse or child, potentially causing costly litigation in the future.

The risks with informal Wills and DIY Will kits can also include:

  • Forgetting to appoint someone as an Executor;
  • Illegible handwriting;
  • Failing to properly download and store the Will (if using an online service);
  • Not taking into account changes to circumstances or asset holdings in the future;
  • Imposing obligations on your Executor or Beneficiaries that are unworkable or illegal; and
  • Failing to adhere to the strict witnessing formalities.

At Coulter Legal, we pride ourselves on providing tailored and comprehensive advice with respect to your estate planning and we will ensure your Will is both legally compliant and effective so that your loved ones are not left having to face the uncertainty and the expense of an application to Court after your death.

If you require advice or further information in relation to any of the matters discussed in this article, please contact our Wills, Estates and Succession Planning team.

Stefan Manche.
Stefan Manche Principal Lawyer Head of Wills, Estates & Succession Planning View profile
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