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DIY Will: Can I write my own Will?

Can you write your own Will?  Yes, absolutely it’s possible to write your own Will without a lawyer.  But is it a good idea?  What are you really saving yourself?  And what might you be costing your loved ones in the future?

Your Will is one of the most important documents you will sign in your life.  It’s up there with signing the contract to buy a house or signing your name on your marriage certificate.  Your Will is the document that sets out how you want your estate dealt with when you die.  It determines what you leave to who, if you have kids it appoints their testamentary guardians and sets out the framework for how their inheritance is to be managed, and if you’re a business owner it can determine the succession of your business.  Your Will is a big deal.

Is that something you want to cut corners on?

Will kits and online services seem good in theory.  Work your way through a form and at the end you have a ready to sign Will without needing a lawyer!  The thing is, there is good reason that lawyers have years of study, experience, and a regulatory requirement for ongoing learning.  The law for Wills comes from legislation made by Parliament and matters that have already been settled in court, and the law continues to grow and shift as swathes of court cases play out around the country.

Questions over what is meant by words used in a Will or how it has been signed usually ends with the deceased’s family or loved ones in court trying to resolve those issues.  This can cost tens of thousands of dollars.  There are a multitude of mistakes that can occur when drafting and finalising a Will; like incorrect descriptions of the gift or the person receiving the gift, having the wrong person witness the Will, or even confusion of whether you truly own what you are trying to gift (is it jointly owned? Is it trust property?).

Before I start drafting a Will, we have an initial consultation where I get to know you.  We will discuss your family and financial circumstances and your goals for your estate plan.  Each Will and estate plan is a customised strategy for each client’s particular circumstances and wishes for their estate plan.  That’s not something that can be achieved by pre-filling an online questionnaire or mish-mashing parts of a form together.  It also means you receive advice relevant to your circumstances like risks of future claims against your estate, or how to choose the right testamentary guardian for your kids.

So, yes you can write your own Will.  But if your Will goes wrong then the financial and emotional cost of that is left to your family or loved ones to deal with after you die, and your estate may not pass how you intended.  The question I’ll leave you with is, is that a risk worth taking?

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