Western Australian Supreme Court Master Craig Sanderson has publically stated in a 2014 judgment that “Homemade Wills are a curse,” and inevitably lead to protracted and expensive legal battles in family disputes involving substantial estates.
Master Sanderson said the legal issue around the proper determination of the deceased’s Will could have been avoided if he had “consulted a lawyer and signed off on a Will that reflected his wishes”.
Master Sanderson warned of the dangers of homemade Wills, saying there was no question that engaging a properly qualified and experienced lawyer to draft a Will was “money well spent”.
“But where, as here, the estate of the deceased is substantial, the Will is opaque and there is no agreement among the beneficiaries, the inevitable result is an expensive legal battle which is unlikely to satisfy everyone.”
This view is supported by Rod Genders, who is a senior Australian lawyer specialising in trusts, Wills and estate planning, accident compensation, probate and deceased estate administration in Adelaide and throughout South Australia. His boutique specialist law firm, which was founded on 1848, is one of the oldest and most respected in Australia.
“Any mistakes you make with those DIY Will-kits (which are really just expensive stationery) can end up costing your family later on (disputed estates, family distress, huge litigation costs). What backup and support will you get? If you go down this path then – Buyer Beware! I know of law firms who make a good living out of the work generated from those kits – trying to repair the mistakes, interpret & rectify the intended Wills, and fight-off the contested estate claims – all because someone thought it was a good idea to DIY the most important legal document in their life.”
Rod Genders said “a legal Will is almost certainly the most important legal document you will ever create in your whole life. Doesn’t it make sense to take the effort to get it right? I mean, people who wouldn’t even dream of trying to install their own toilet or air-conditioner, are having a go at creating their own legal Wills. Take a good hard look at the fine print in those Will kits – you’ll notice that they all have a disclaimer saying it’s not a substitute for proper legal advice! So will it be worth anything to you when it really counts? The problems will only show up after you’re dead and gone. Then it’s your family & loved ones who have to wear the cost and all the delay and heartache to try to fix it all afterwards.”
5 Common Dangers in Using DIY Kits
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Rod Genders is a senior Australian lawyer specialising in trusts, Wills and estate planning, accident compensation, and probate and deceased estate administration in Adelaide and all over South Australia. His boutique specialist law firm, which was founded on 1848, is one of the oldest and most respected in Australia. Rod is also a prolific author and speaker. Some of his articles and books on Wills, Probate, Trusts, Estate Planning, Asset Protection and Retirement Planning may be found at www.genders.com.au.
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