The pitfalls to avoid with DIY wills

Cheap and cheerful “do it yourself” projects can be harmless, but are you willing to take the risk when it comes to distributing your estate?

Although a Will is one of the most important legal documents many Australians will ever deal with, DIY Will kits or even homemade wills are common.

While making a Will to distribute your estate may seem smooth and straightforward, some DIY Wills simply won’t hold up in court if put under any pressure. What money you saved when you made your Will could be pittance compared to the thousands of dollars your loved ones may lose from the estate through increased tax, additional costs and even disputes or claims against the validity or fairness of the Will.

There are cases where DIY Wills work perfectly well, but are you willing to take the risk? We look into some of the many DIY pitfalls you can avoid by having your will professionally drafted and executed by an experienced lawyer.

  1. The will was not correctly executed

A Will that was not property executed or witnessed may be deemed invalid or may at least increase costs in obtaining probate.

2. The estate was not disposed of correctly

DIY Wills often include assets that the deceased does not officially own, like jointly owned property and superannuation. This can mean assets are distributed according to legislation, also known as a partial intestacy.

3. The non-estate assets were not dealt with correctly

Many assets we believe to own outright are actually out of our control when it comes to estate distribution. For example, superannuation and life insurance already have clauses that override whatever you write in your will. Unfortunately, a DIY will kit is unlikely to explain how to effectively execute a death benefit nomination, which may be necessary for your Superannuation to be passed to the correct person

4. Claims were made against the estate

Disputes to a Will may arise when a family member or loved one challenges the Will’s validity (which covers fraud, forgery, coercion and pressure, unsound mind and more) or challenges the contents and fair distribution of the Will.
A good lawyer will determine how you can distribute your estate fairly to help avoid (as much as possible) any dispute.

Find out more about how to safeguard your will against disputes here.

5. Tax was not considered

Did you know that parts of your estate will be taxed differently depending on who receives the asset? Beneficiaries can often receive tax benefits and asset protection when the Will includes a correctly set up testamentary discretionary trust, something which simply will not be included in DIY Will kits.

6. The Will causes confusion

While you knew exactly what you were writing down, others may not. If the asset or terms of the asset isn’t well described or explained, it can cause confusion and lead to unnecessary additional costs.

Not having a Will professionally dealt with by an experienced Wills and Estates lawyer can cost more than just money – a poorly executed will could even result in fractured family relationships.

Luckily, the experienced and expert lawyers in Wills and Estates at Taylor & Scott are happy to help. Taylor & Scott lawyers have helped many create and safeguard a Will, and act for clients if a will in which you they are beneficiary is contested.

Don’t risk your Will causing more pain and heartache in the event of your passing. Arrange a meeting with us or call today on 1800 600 664.

At Taylor & Scott, we care for you.