A friend recently asked me what the real difference was between writing a Will themselves or using a DIY Will kit, and engaging a lawyer to write their Will for them.
In this blog, we outline some of the issues you should be aware of when writing your own Will and the potential benefits of consulting a legal professional to draft it for you.
One size may not fit all
One of the first things you need to be aware of is that when it comes to drafting a Will, it’s not a one size fits all scenario.
In today’s world, people tend to have more complex financial situations beyond a home, a car and savings in a bank account. You may have a significant amount of funds in superannuation, or a life insurance policy. You may have a self-managed super fund or a family trust. Dealing with these financial scenarios is not a basic, straightforward proposition.
In addition, people these days do not always wish to be buried in a cemetery. You may like to donate your organs or be cremated, or have your ashes scattered somewhere of personal significance.
Many people also have non-traditional family structures, such as a blended family, or a separated family unit, and these situations need to be acknowledged and accounted for when you write your Will.
Add to this that every Australian state is governed by different estate planning laws, and you may find that writing your own Will is not as easy or straightforward as you had thought. What if you have property or assets located in a different state? Which state laws will apply? How do you deal with the international property?
In a standard DIY Will Kit, only very basic clauses may be included, such as appointing an Executor and leaving your entire estate to your spouse or children.
An Estate Planning Lawyer will draft a Will that takes into account all your individual financial and personal circumstances, ensuring that you execute a legally valid and, most importantly, fully comprehensive Will.
The big question of guardianship of minor children
Another very important matter to consider when writing your Will is choosing a guardian for minor children under the age of 18. While it’s not something we like to think about, it is an important decision to make. In a DIY Will kit, it may make provision for you to nominate a guardian for your children – but are there other matters you may need to consider?
What about nominating the age that minor beneficiaries can inherit from your estate? What about specifying the purpose of inheritance funds that can be used by a Trustee while your beneficiaries are minors, such as education, housing and the like?
Your Will is a very important legal document – Why would you not leave it to a legal professional?
If you had a heart problem, would you perform open-heart surgery on yourself? If you needed dental work, would you perform your own dental surgery? If you answered ‘no’ to these questions, then why would you attempt to write your own Will?
Whilst it might be more expensive to use a solicitor to draft your Will, the benefit is that you can be assured it will be legally valid and will include all relevant legal and financial matters that need to be taken into consideration.
In addition, an Estate Planning Lawyer will also be able to provide you advice on whether Powers of Attorney should be drafted as well, and will often include these for you as part of a package with your Will.
Our advice would be if you are considering writing your own Will to first take an opportunity to have a free consultation with one of our Estate Planning Lawyers and obtain a fixed-fee quote. It may not cost as much as you think and it could provide you with peace of mind that your last wishes will be fulfilled after your death.
This article is written by Karen Finch and was first published on the Legally Yours website.
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This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to a practising lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Legally Yours Pty Ltd accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.