A DIY Will is any Will not prepared formally by a lawyer. Any “homemade” Will your executor submits to the court for probate is likely to be scrutinised.
Despite a Will being the most important legal document we ever deal with, many Australians opt to use the DIY Will.
While making a Will to distribute your estate may seem smooth and straightforward, some DIY Wills don’t hold up in court. The assets outlined in your Will can drain away from taxes, costs and disputes over validity.
Are DIY Wills Valid?
Short answer: Yes – but be careful! When it comes to handling complex situations, DIY Wills are rarely adequate. The way we speak and the everyday words we use can have different meanings in a legal context.
If a court decides your Will is not valid, the default is to revert to an earlier Will or declare intestate.
“Pardon The Jargon” – People who passed without a Will are said to have died intestate.
There are many successful DIY Wills. However, are you willing to take the risk when distributing your estate? If you’re not yet convinced, here are some worst-case scenarios to consider when attempting a DIY Will.
#1 Not Correctly Executed
Insufficiently executed or witnessed Wills may be deemed invalid or at least result in increased estate costs.
#2 Estate Not Disposed of Correctly
DIY Wills often include assets the deceased does not officially own, such as jointly owned property and superannuation. Should this occur, only part of the assets can be distributed, resulting in partial intestacy.
#3 Assets Not Dealt With Correctly
Many assets we believe we own outright are out of our control regarding estate distribution. For example, superannuation and life insurance already have clauses overruling whatever you write in your Will.
A DIY Will is unlikely to explain how to effectively execute a death benefit nomination, which may be necessary for your superannuation to be distributed correctly.
#4 Claims Made Against the Estate
Disputes arise when a family member or loved one challenge a Will’s validity. Typical dispute claims are fraud, forgery, coercion and pressure, and unsound mind, challenging the contents or fair distribution of the Will.
A good lawyer can help you distribute your estate fairly while making challenging a Will difficult.
#5 Tax 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.
DIY Wills DON’T have this!
#6 Uncertainty Over the Will
While you knew exactly what you wanted as you wrote it down, others might not interpret it the same way. If the asset or terms aren’t adequately explained, confusion will arise, leading to unnecessary costs in deciphering your Will.
Not having a Will professionally dealt with by an experienced Wills and Estates lawyer can cost more than just money – a poorly executed Will can fracture family relationships.
No matter your financial situation, we ask everyone considering arranging a Will: Do you want to make things easier or harder for your loved ones after your passing? If the answer is easier, then it’s time to call Taylor & Scott.
Taylor & Scott’s expert Wills and Estates lawyers are here to help. We’ve helped hundreds of clients create and safeguard their Wills and defend contested Wills.
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.