The DIY Will Kit: Pitfalls and Dangers

‘Why should I pay a solicitor to write my will when I can do it myself for $30 with a DIY will kit?’
We’ve heard these words uttered often, and as lawyers, we shudder at the thought. And no, it’s not because we ‘want your money’. The real reason is because we know how wrong wills can go. In fact, due to drafting issues, DIY will kits can lead to more costs for your loved ones when trying to administer your estate.
DIY will kits are everywhere. They are readily available on the internet and at your local post office, news agency or bookstore for a fraction of the cost of having a solicitor prepare a Will for you. We admit that on the face of it these DIY will kits are definitely appealing, for the price, convenience and speed of the process.
‘We are seeing a rise in the work to unravel the issues with DIY wills following the increase of will kits and forms available online and through various outlets,’ says Imelda Dodds, Chief Executive of the NSW Trustee and Guardian.
Unfortunately, this means that a significant amount of wills are ‘ambiguous, can be misinterpreted and therefore challenged, or are not valid and able to be executed,’ says Dodds.
The issues that arise with will kits only eventuate after you have passed away and your loved ones are trying to administer your estate. In some cases we have seen, there have been so many issues that at the end of resolving it all, there is virtually nothing left for your loved ones to enjoy.
The Top Ten Pitfalls and Dangers

  1. The executor has died or does not want the role and there is no substitute provided;
  2. The Will is incorrectly signed and witnessed;
  3. The gift fails (e.g., you specifically gift your 2007 Toyota Camry but you sell that car and buy a 2017 Holden Astra);
  4. The entire estate is not dealt with in the Will and therefore results in partial intestacy;
  5. The Will attempts to do something which is not enforceable, such as disinheriting your child, placing unreasonable conditions on the gift or incorrect powers are given to the executor;
  6. Ambiguous identification of gifts, executors or beneficiaries;
  7. Alternate scenarios are not covered, such as your beneficiary passing away before you do;
  8. Making amendments incorrectly;
  9. Not naming guardians for your children;
  10. The assets gifted to children under 18 are not correctly set up to be held on trust for them.

You wouldn’t want ‘just anyone’ to perform surgery, extract a tooth or prescribe medicine. So why would you want that for one of the most important legal documents you will have?
Gowland Legal has years of experience in Wills, Estate Planning and Probate. Give us a call on (02) 9569 3000 or send an email to contact@gowlandlegal.com.au if you’d like more information about our services.
 
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