Australian Supreme Court says DIY Wills are a curse

Australian Supreme Court says DIY Wills are a curse

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.

The 7 Deadly Sins of DIY Wills

The 7 Deadly Sins of DIY Wills

Trying to DIY the most important legal document in your life is a bad idea. This is a specialised area of law, and when you don’t know what you’re doing, it is very easy to make critical errors trying to do this yourself. Any mistakes you make won’t become apparent until you die, and it’s too late for you to fix them, so it will be your family who has the stress and cost of dealing with it all.

Here are 7 of the most common errors people make with DIY Wills:

  1. No Advice. While DIY Will-kits and online services might provide you with a document that looks like a Will, appearances can be deceptive.       What you are paying a lawyer for is the advice they provide you along with the Will. It is illegal for anyone other than a licensed lawyer to provide legal advice for a fee, whether that means answering questions or making planning suggestions for how to accomplish goals. So the companies that offer DIY Wills or kits or online documents are always careful to tell you that they are not giving you legal advice, and they ALWAYS recommend that you consult a lawyer if you have questions.

Wills and Estate Planning in Adelaide: 5 Common Dangers In Using DIY Kits

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Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: The Dangers of DIY Wills and Estate Planning

The Dangers of DIY Wills and Estate Planning

Some people resist or resent spending money on estate planning, because they think (wrongly) they won’t gain the benefits themselves.

In difficult financial times like these, some folks may be tempted to postpone or minimise what might seem like a non-essential expenditure.

Every week, thousands of television advertisements from insurance companies encourage people to bypass lawyers and create their own Wills, using cheap or free “Will kits”.

The big ugly truth about these kits is that people make a lot of mistakes when they try to create their own Wills and estate planning documents. They have been lulled into a false sense of security. But answering just one question incorrectly or overlooking something such as appointing a guardian for children can lead to major problems down the road.

There are lots of traps for the unwary, and this whole area of law regarding deceased estates contains a hidden minefield which you absolutely want to avoid. And with a bit of education & planning, they can. Otherwise they won’t know the questions to ask, or what to do with the answers.