Do-it-yourself Will Kits have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and can present a less expensive alternative to hiring a Lawyer to draft your will for you.
In simple wills where there is unlikely to be any contention between the beneficiaries, will kits can provide a simple method of putting your affairs in order.
However, leading experts such as Troy Palmer, an accredited specialists in wills and estates and national manager for estate planning at National Australia Trustees, have warned that there are still many potential pitfalls in taking the cheaper option, even when things seem simple enough to handle yourself.
“There’s no substitute for proper advice from a qualified lawyer, no matter how straightforward you think your affairs are,” said Palmer.
There are many specific requirements at law that can make the execution of a will run more smoothly, and which are easily overlooked without a trained professional.
Superannuation, for example, many not necessarily be covered by a broadly-phrased will, as certain technicalities apply. Lawyers can generally phrase a will with much less ambiguity, and avoid any confusion down the line.
Similarly, it can be difficult to exclude people from the will who might have a claim on your estate under family provision laws. A lawyer can advise you on the proper language and reasoning that needs to be included.
Having a lawyer supervising the drafting of the will can also reduce the risk of it being challenged on the grounds of your capacity. Claims that you have been pressured into drafting a will, or that you did not understand the process, are more difficult to establish if a qualified solicitor has been overseeing the process. You can also be reassured that the signing and witnessing of the will has been performed correctly.
A lawyer can give direct advice over whom to appoint as executor of the will, help arrange suitable trustees if required, and advice on tax implications for your beneficiaries.
It may be worth hiring a legal expert if any of these issues are of concern to you.
Will kits can still be appropriate, however, if your estate is very straightforward – for example, if you have few assets and only a single beneficiary.
As a further alternative, the NSW Trustee and Guardian, operated by the NSW Government, can provide instruction in drafting your will. Appointments can be made via their website at http://www.tag.nsw.gov.au/make-a-will.html.
Be sure to consider all your options when it comes time to draft your will.
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