What is Wrong with DIY Will Kits?

The simple answer is technically nothing, but there are still some things you need to be conscious of if you decide to go the DIY route.

DIY Will kits can be seen as a favourable option due to their low cost and apparent simplicity. But what you must be aware of is that estate planning goes beyond just making a Will.  Making a Will must be done properly in order to be effective and there are a great many things which must be considered when doing so in order for it to actually do what you want it to.

Some of the main issues with DIY Will kits include:

Form

In Queensland, there are very specific requirements as to the presentation and execution and witnessing of a Will.

Will documents must not be creased, marked, stapled, paperclipped or the like. Where the Will is marked in such a manner it will be necessary for the Executor to swear an affidavit to detail why the document is marked this way. This is to ensure that there have been no pages or amendments removed from the Will. If the Executor is not able to swear such an affidavit, issues will arise when seeking the Grant of Probate.

Further, in accordance with section 10 of the Succession Act 1981 (Qld), a Will must be signed as follows:

  • The Will must be in writing;
  • The Will must be signed by the Will-maker, in the presence of a minimum of 2 witnesses who are not beneficiaries of the Will;
  • The Will maker must sign the Will with the intention of executing the Will; and
  • The 2 witnesses must each acknowledge they witnessed the Will-maker sign his or her Will by signing the Will, writing their name and address.

If the Will is not executed and witnessed in this way it will be considered informal.

Complex nature

DIY Will kits are simple by nature and do not take into account a persons' varying circumstances as no two Wills are ever the same.  

DIY Will kits usually do not consider blended families, possible family provision claims where a testator has not adequately provided for a dependent, interests in partnerships, companies and trusts, taxation consequences and the like.

Further, you must ensure that any gifts and beneficiaries are properly recorded in your Will so they are identifiable. Incorrectly recording a beneficiary or gift may result in your wishes not being followed after your death.

Estate planning

When you engage a law firm to prepare your Will, their estate planning process goes beyond just making of a Will.  They will obtain instructions in respect of powers of attorney, binding death benefit nominations in respect of superannuation, advanced health directives and the general tidying up of your affairs to make the execution of your estate as seamless as possible.  They will also often consult with your accountant and.or financial planner (when you have an interest in a company or trust) to ensure the tax effectiveness of the Will for the benefit of your beneficiaries.  They will also provide advice on how you can reduce the risks of possible claims against your estate.

At the end of the day, cheaper isn't always better.  Particularly with something as important as your Will.

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