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Megan Horsell

- 11 Apr 2024
  • Wills & Estates

Risks of Writing your own Will with a Will Kit

Your Will is one of the most important documents you will sign during your lifetime, so getting it right is essential, not only to make things smoother and less stressful for your family once you pass away, but also so you benefit the beneficiaries you intended and how you intended.

A properly considered and drafted Will can make things much easier for your family at an already difficult time if you pass away with the opposite being the case if your Will contains deficiencies that can be costly and time consuming to deal with.

With Will kits being available for around $25 from the Post Office or Newsagency, preparing your own Will using a DIY Will kit can be tempting. While this will certainly save money in the short term, using a Will kit comes with significant risks that your Will won’t be what you intended and these errors often only come to light once you have died and the Will comes into effect creating additional stress for your family at an already difficult time.

We regularly come across home made Wills after someone has died that can cost thousands of dollars to deal with as a result of what seems like a small, simple or obvious error or inclusion that you cannot explain or rectify as you have passed away. Some examples are:

  • Incorrect or Unclear Wording

Using incorrect or unclear wording to identify your assets or beneficiaries can have disastrous impact on the effect of your Will. The incorrect language could result in a beneficiary missing out on a specific gift you wanted them to have or missing out on a benefit from your will altogether.

In extreme cases, the words and language used can contain errors severe enough to cause some or all of your Will to be invalid. The result of this is that some of your estate is not dealt with in your Will and the intestacy provisions will be applied.

  • Not Being Properly Executed

There are strict signing requirements in place for a Will to be valid and the Willmakers signature must be witnessed by 2 witnesses, who must also sign the Will at the same time.

For home Will kits, the same pen must also be used, and it is very common for this to be overlooked.

  • Claims Against the Estate

A claim against the estate may be more likely with a Will kit as a family member or other party may be more likely to challenge the validity of the home Will knowing that the Willmaker did not receive professional advice.

The most likely claims are that the Will was prepared through coercion or that the Willmaker was of unsound mind when the Will was signed.

  • Storage of Wills

Once signed, home Wills are often stored in places that cause them to be damaged which can be costly to address once you have died.

Benefits of a Professionally Drafted Will

Having your Will professionally drafted by an experienced solicitor, can allow you the peace of mind of knowing your Will has been drafted with your specific wishes, family circumstances and assets in mind and that you have done all you can to look after your family once you pass away.

A professionally drafted Will allows you to:

  • Name your executor/s and have an appropriate back up in the event your chosen person is unwilling or unable to act;
  • Correctly identify your assets and confirm which of your property will become part of your estate;
  • Make specific gifts of property for business, equality between beneficiaries or sentimental reasons;
  • Choose your beneficiaries and determine when and how they will receive their inheritance, such as when they attain a certain age or via a trust to protect a vulnerable beneficiary;
  • Have appropriate powers inserted for your executors to maximise your estate for the benefit of your loved ones such as by minimising tax payable by your estate and/or your beneficiaries after your death and allowing beneficiaries to receive a particular asset in lieu of another asset;
  • Include a direction on who should control a family trust after you die;
  • Include reasons for why you have excluded a beneficiary who is eligible to make a claim against your estate;
  • Document any other directions and wishes you have such as a guardian for your minor children or provide instructions relating to your funeral or burial wishes; and
  • Ensure your Will is signed in accordance with the formal signing requirements.

An experienced Wills & Estates solicitor also has specific knowledge of the various areas of law that can impact on your estate including: succession law; trusts law; tax and superannuation laws; and family law and advise you in relation to how these laws impact your individual circumstances so that you can then make informed decisions regarding your estate.

Contact DBH Lawyers now on FREE CALL 1800 324 324 to make an appointment with one of our experienced team members, we offer fixed fee* Wills.

*Terms and conditions apply