Challenges of Preparing DIY Online Wills
Thinking about preparing your Will can be a daunting task. For many, the very idea of a Will is associated with death and demise. This in itself can cause anxiety and stress. Adding to this is the confusion around how to prepare your Will which includes concerns like how much costs it involves, and the amount of time it takes to finalise the document.
Broadly, there are two ways through which people prepare their Wills. Either they opt to approach Wills and estate planning solicitors, or they prefer to make do-it-yourself or DIY online Wills.
Naturally, DIY online Wills are preferred by many because it saves them from additional legal costs. However, what many don’t realise is that it is very easy to slip-up when making DIY Wills, ultimately leading to your document becoming invalid. In the long run, this will in fact lead to more costs as you may have to redo your Will and start the process all over again.
The aim of this article is to explore certain challenges of preparing DIY Wills. This is especially the case when complicated estates are involved.
Problems associated with DIY Wills
Firstly, in Australia, the legislation around Wills and estate planning differs from state to state. There are various legal requirements that need to be fulfilled in order to make the Will valid. When using a DIY Will, you will not be advised about the law that is applicable to your state.
Through online Will services you get access to templates and documents at a reasonable cost. But you may not always know what to do with the templates. For instance, you need to be fully aware about the extent and nature of your estate. Additionally, there should be some documentation detailing all relevant information about your estate.
When using online Wills, you have to prepare a list of assets, beneficiaries, and executors. Generally, lawyers can help you with formulating these necessary documents. However, through DIY methods, there will be limited guidance on how to go about making such documents. Importantly, the document should also contain information such as full names, addresses and contact information of all beneficiaries and executors.
Understandably, the task of finding the right lawyer and the legal costs involved discourage many to go ahead with this option. However, the importance of executing the Will in accordance with state probate laws cannot be understated. This factor is ignored when people use generic online Will-making websites.
In Australia, and in most other countries, to make a Will legally valid, it needs to be signed and witnessed by two people. Additionally, some state laws internationally also have a requirement that the Wills need to be in writing.
However, because of the pandemic and intermittent lockdown restrictions that have been imposed in the past two years, many have turned to online Will-making services to check this task off their to-do lists. Online Wills can still be a viable option for simple estates. However, where there is more than one real property involved, or if people have a complicated family structure, online Wills can pose great challenges.
Estate planning is very important. In Australia, many people die without leaving a valid Will in place. This is termed as dying intestate. Family lawyers, and estate planning lawyers have witnessed a great deal of conflicts and disputes within the family when the deceased dies intestate.
To avoid potential disputes, it is very important to detail intentions on how assets should be distributed, by writing a valid Will. Because DIY Wills have great chances of being rendered as invalid, it is risky to always resort to this approach. As convenient and hassle-free as DIY Wills might seem, it is not the most prudent option for making a Will when complicated estate is involved.
John Bui is the Principal Solicitor of JB Solicitors, a law firm based in Sydney, Australia which deals with family law, estate planning and criminal law matters, among others.
comments powered by Disqus