Understanding the risks of DIY Wills

Creating a Will is an essential step to secure your assets and ensure your loved ones are taken care of after you die. In today’s do-it-yourself era many people are tempted to draft their own Wills without seeking professional guidance. There are DIY Will kits available at post offices and online platforms that offer a form-filling process with a generated Will at the end. However, while DIY projects can be exciting and appear cost-effective, when it comes to Wills it’s crucial to understand the potential risks and delayed costs. In this blog, we’ll shed light on the pitfalls of DIY Wills, and why consulting an estate planning lawyer saves your loved ones – both emotionally and financially – in the long run.

1. Legally Valid Wills

A valid Will must meet specific legal requirements detailed in the Queensland succession legislation. A simple mistake or oversight can render your Will invalid or ambiguous.

There’s no guarantee a Court can fix mistakes in a DIY Will and any decision by a Court may not be what the Will-maker intended. Court costs to attempt to rectify a Will easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars which means less money in the estate for the Will-maker’s loved ones.

2. Family Structures

DIY Wills often fail to address the complexity of modern family structures. Blended families, stepchildren, estranged relatives, or dependents with special needs require careful consideration. Navigating legal rules regarding group gifts (eg “my children” or “my grandchildren”), distinguishing between legal names and aliases, and determining the fate of a gift if the intended recipient passes away before you can be complex areas that pose potential pitfalls for DIY Will-makers.

3. Identifying and Managing Assets

Appropriately identifying and managing your assets in a Will is crucial for a smooth estate administration process. DIY Wills may overlook certain assets or fail to account for the changing value of your estate over time. Superannuation (and any life insurance held within your super) does not automatically become part of your estate and must be considered in the overall strategy for the estate plan.

4. Tax Efficiency and Asset Protection

Estate planning involves maximizing tax efficiency and protecting your assets. DIY Wills may not adequately address these aspects, resulting in unnecessary tax burdens or leaving assets vulnerable to claims or challenges.

5. Avoiding Family Disputes

When Wills are unclear or contain ambiguities, they can lead to disputes among family members. DIY Wills may lack the necessary clarity and precision, leaving room for interpretation and disagreement. Family disputes post-death not only cause emotional stress and strain, but the costs of resolving the dispute may easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars (or more!). Saving money now by attempting a DIY Will can end up costing loved ones so much more in the long run – financially and emotionally.

6. Peace of Mind

Perhaps the most significant advantage of a professionally drafted estate plan is the peace of mind it brings. Knowing that your estate plan has been thoughtfully crafted by a professional and legally valid provides reassurance that your loved ones will be protected and your wishes will be respected.

Our initial consultation is the first step in your estate planning journey, allowing us to delve into your financial situation, family dynamics, and desired outcomes for your estate plan. During this crucial step, we discuss various options and strategies tailored to achieve your specific goals. While the ultimate goal is the creation of your estate plan documents, the immense value lies in understanding the “what,” “why,” and “how” of the process. This comprehensive approach sets a professionally crafted Will miles apart and ahead of a DIY Will.

While DIY projects can be fulfilling, preparing your own Will is not one of them. The potential risks and consequences associated with DIY Wills are too great to ignore. Take the right step today and secure the future of your loved ones. Click here to request a booking, or head to the ‘Request a Booking’ tab. We look forward to speaking with you soon and creating a strategic estate plan tailored to your needs.

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