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.
Genders and Partners is the oldest law firm in South Australia. The work of our estatePlanner division is targeted towards 2 main areas. One is called Estate Planning. This includes the preparation of legal Wills, Powers-of-Attorney, Advance Directives, Guardianships, Deeds of Family Arrangement, End-of-Life Directives and similar matters. The other area relates to Estate Administration, which includes Probate, intestacy, contested estates, Inheritance Family Provision claims, Protected Estates, dealings with Public Trustee; Guardianship hearings, community treatment orders and financial administration orders.
One area logically leads to the other, so that if an estate plan is deficient, the administration of that estate will be more problematic.
While most lawyers charge an hourly rate, Genders and Partners offer flat fees for packages of estate planning documents, such as a Will, different types of powers of attorney, and end-of-life directive.
If clients’affairs are more complex than standard, we give them a firm estimate of the total cost before they incur additional charges.
We really enjoy getting the best possible result for our clients, and encouraging them to think and plan ahead, to minimise or avoid grief for themselves & their families down the track.
It is all about Peace-of-Mind for our clients, and we are proud to be able to say that we enjoy lifelong relationships with our clients.
We work with each client on an individual level, to create an integrated plan that is personalised just for them and we prepare all their legal documents within their estate plan so that they work together. We supervise the proper execution of all the documents, and we store them securely.
Many Australians have no idea what happens after they die without a Will or estate plan, and sadly many rely on the misguided notion that a FREE or cheap DIY kit Will is good enough to protect their family and assets.
Any mistakes you make with those 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! There are 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.
The amount of litigation involving kit Wills is growing.
Those Will-kits are like DIY brain surgery. Just because you can try to do it yourself doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Doesn’t it make sense to take the effort to get it right? Most people wouldn’t even dream of trying to install their own toilet or air-conditioner, but are being encouraged to have a go at creating the most important legal document you will ever create in your whole life.
But 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 and your family 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.
Rod Genders is a senior Australian lawyer specialising in accident compensation and estate planning in Adelaide. His boutique specialist law firm is one of the oldest and most respected in Australia – visit it at www.genders.com.au . 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/adelaide-lawyer-blog.