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DIY Wills – not such a good idea

There are many things in life that you can DIY – and many that you cannot, or at least, really shouldn’t.  Wills fall into the second category.

You can easily go and buy a DIY Will Kit from the post office or a news agent, but unless you are an expert in Wills yourself, that’s where the ease stops. 

  1. At best, a DIY Will Kit is only good for a “simple Will”. What that really means is a simple family situation, where you are a couple or single person with only a few beneficiaries and you all live in absolute harmony. Or you only have a limited number of possessions such as some household goods and a few bank accounts. So if you were able to time-warp yourself back to the 1950’s, you might be okay. But the moment you have more than this, such as superannuation – and these days that’s everybody, then the Will Kit won’t cut it!
  2. Families will have no way of really knowing if the DIY Will is suitable, because there is no advice. Sure, there may be lots of information provided with the kit, but how do you apply it? And how do you even know if it is correct?
  3. Also how good is the kit in the first place? You can be guaranteed that it has not been prepared by an “expert” (even if it says so on the packaging) – because a real expert would never let anyone do their own Will!
  4. Even if you managed to put a “proper” Will together, there is the big issue of getting it signed correctly without legal assistance. The Courts are littered with cases of DIY Wills that were not signed correctly and the resulting problems of beneficiaries fighting for control of the estate.
  5. Finally, at the end of the day you have to acknowledge that “you don’t know what you don’t know”. Without the help of a properly qualified and experienced lawyer, you may not realise the issues that you are missing in your “simple” family situation. For example, how do you deal with non-estate assets such as superannuation or assets held jointly (especially your own home) or a family trust? Or children/other beneficiaries with special needs, or who are still young when you die? Or families with second spouses and children of previous relationships – there are so many unique situations we live in.

Get an expert to help you. Don’t be tempted to save a few dollars now with a DIY Will Kit, because you may end up risking your entire estate later – and at a time when your family can least afford it! If you want to be referred to a lawyer, just give us a call and we can point you in the right direction.

John Barber