Why don’t we just use plain English for wills?

There are a number of reasons we do not use what would be referred to as “plain English” in our wills. The term plain English generally means a move away from “legalese”, with an emphasis on old-fashioned words combined with a lot of Latin. We regularly review the wording of our wills, agreements and other documents, to ensure where something can be properly stated as simply and as clearly as possible, it is. Less is often more, and we need to ensure that when executing a will, our clients approve the document. To approve it, they need to understand it.

However, there are a number of considerations with the way we word our documents:

  • Some plain English words could be interpreted in multiple different ways. Of course, with a will, you would not be alive to assist with the interpretation. The Courts use the words themselves as the primary consideration when interpreting the meaning of a will. When dividing up your estate, it is not a time for potential ambiguity.
  • The wording of our wills has been interpreted by the Courts to give effect to our client’s wishes over many decades. The primary function of a will is to ensure your wishes are enacted after your death so that your loved ones do not miss out.
  • We use words that refer to settled legal concepts. Using euphemisms for those words, for the sake of plain English, will make the task of will interpretation more difficult, potentially increasing legal fees and delays in administering an estate.

Our expert estate planning solicitors will go through your will to ensure you understand and approve of its contents. We also include an explanatory memorandum with your draft will, with plain English explanations of the meaning and effect of common clauses, along with a glossary of terms.

Speak to one of our solicitors to ensure your wishes are enacted today, by calling 8223 3199.

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