DIY Wills: 5 traps that can cost you

The do-it-yourself will kit may seem like an easy approach to take to your estate planning, but as WA's Supreme Court Master Craig Sanderson recently stated:

"homemade wills are a curse."

This remark was made in the recent case of Gray v Gray, in which the use of a DIY will kit resulted in a dispute over assets that lasted for 10 years after the death of the testator.

Here are some of the DIY will kit traps:

1.   Will kits can be difficult to understand - When Choice Online reviewed a number of DIY will kits they actually found they may "confuse rather than clarify". Misunderstanding and non-compliance with will kit instructions will result in significant issues when it comes to administering your estate.

2.  Will kits are often inadequate to cover complex situations - The Choice review also found that the DIY will kits tested were not appropriate to cover complex situations, in fact some of them failed to outline what these are. Complex situations include:

  • Having dependants under the age of 18
  • Having children from different relationships

3.   Will kits fail to address important issues - The use of a DIY will kit may result in critical considerations being left out of your estate plan.  DIY kits are a "one size fits all" approach, and if your circumstances don't fit in the spaces provided, your beneficiaries may lose out.  DIY kits offer little or no advice regarding issues such as:

  • Non-estate assets: Including superannuation and jointly owned assets, that don't actually form part of your estate.
  • Tax: You may not get the most tax effective way of bequeathing your estate.
  • Paying off remaining debt: Failure to deal with this may result in unequal inheritance being distributed.

4.  A will can be cumbersome to amend - Your will should be consistently reviewed and amended as your circumstances change. In the absence of professional advice, it may be difficult to know when or why you should amend your estate plan, and to ensure your amendments are valid and binding.

5.  A DIY kit is more costly in the long-run - While DIY will kits are relatively inexpensive, any money saved now would be minute compared to the legal fees that may result if your will is invalid or poorly drafted.

Having a well-drafted, valid will in place saves your loved ones much unneeded stress, time and money during an already difficult period.

For more information contact our team on 03 9691 5959.


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