How much will your “free” will really cost?

By Rod Anthes

A lot of people think that it is easy to make a Will and that they can do it themselves. They go off to the newsagent and buy a Will Kit follow the instructions and then hope for the best.

The Will Kit doesn’t cost as much as Solicitors do – but are you being ‘a penny wise and a pound foolish’?

Unfortunately, a lot of things can go wrong.  From the writer’s experience of some 30 years I have never seen a home-made Will that is legally correct. Wills may not comply with all State and Territory legislation. They are often signed incorrectly, phrased incorrectly, ambiguous or incomplete and can therefore be challenged. I have seen homemade Wills which are not signed by the Testator (the person making the Will), insufficiently witnessed (only one witness, not two) and even without naming any beneficiaries. Some have parts crossed out or added in or just written over and not properly initialled, all in different coloured pens or in pencil. There are rules about this.  The NSW Trustee and Guardian has noted a significant rise in the work to unravel issues with D.I.Y Wills as they have become more available on the internet.[1]

If there is a problem with a Will and it is found to be invalid then your wishes may not be carried out. There will be more expense to the family of the deceased person- usually much more expense and certainly much more than a solicitor would have charged for the Will in the first place. These expenses will normally be taken out of the estate leaving less for the beneficiaries.

Trying a do-it-yourself Will can not only result in extra costs result it may also lead to delay, uncertainty and additional stress to the family.  Also, some problems with Wills can only be resolved by the Supreme Court!

Why do I need a Will?

A Will is a legal document which states who will receive your property, money and possessions when you die.  If you have a good, valid Will you give yourself the best chance of making sure your assets will go where you want them to and also to people who are dependent on you.

Who can sign a Will?

Remember, a Will must be in writing, it must be signed by the person making the Will and that signature must be witnessed by two other people who need to be there at the time the Will is signed and they need to see each other sign the Will.  It must also be clear and it must take account of Family Provisions Legislation. That is why solicitors write them.

What happens if I don’t make a Will?

If you die without a Will, a standard formula is used to divide your property and money – this can become very complex in today’s society and again your loved ones will incur more expense.

Spend your money wisely at the start consult a solicitor and you will save a lot of time, expense and stress for your loved ones at the end.

For more information please contact Rod at:

e: ranthes@elringtons.com.au | p: 02 6206 1300

____________________________________________________________________________________

1. NSW Trustee and Guardian – http://www.tag.nsw.gov.au/verve/_resources/TAG_Connect_Dec_2011_file.pdf