A ‘home will kit’ may seem like a good idea if you’re trying to save some money. However, the law has very strict rules for probate, and these kits may not fully meet the requirements of the Supreme Court or relevant legislation. Often they are not executed and witnessed correctly, may not include all pertinent information, may use contradictory terms, or not fully dispose of the person’s assets.
Any of these issues can lead to lengthy delays, an expensive probate and estate administration, or even your loved ones missing out on their inheritance. What you save now may cost your estate much more in the long run.
The benefits of a solicitor-prepared will
Having an experienced solicitor draw up your will firstly ensures that your will is executed correctly. They can use wording that is accepted by the Courts to have the intended meaning, so your wishes will be correctly interpreted. If someone challenges the validity of the will, the solicitor can assist in upholding it. Having a solicitor witness you signing your will can further support its validity if a dispute ever arose.
You will also receive advice about your options and obligations, meaning you can make better informed decisions. There may be scenarios to include that you would not have otherwise considered. Often important issues such as trusts, taxation and superannuation are overlooked or incorrectly assessed.
If, in the unlikely event that the solicitor has made an error to the detriment of a beneficiary, that person may be able to make an insurance claim against the solicitor, giving you even more peace of mind. However, because a solicitor can complete you will correctly and to your satisfaction, this is often unlikely.
A visit to the solicitor to have your will and any other estate planning documents prepared (such as power of attorney and advance care directive) is probably one of the most affordable visits you’ll ever make. Depending on your situation, you can generally expect it to cost hundreds (not thousands) of dollars. Your solicitor will usually also store your will for free, saving you expensive applications in the case of a lost or damaged will.
You can also ask for an estimate of fees prior to commencing work, to give you peace of mind.