We all know we should make a will. We want our estate divided fairly and as we would wish after we have gone, and in a way that will cause our loved ones the least hassle and, most importantly, won’t lead to any family squabbles. But despite all these self-evidently important concerns, making a will is one of those tasks that frequently gets bumped off our ‘to do’ lists. Partly this is because none of us wants to have to think about our own deaths, but largely it is because we imagine making a will will be time-consuming and expensive.
This isn’t necessarily the case however. Making a will can be very expensive because people ask a lawyer to do it for them, and lawyers’ time doesn’t come cheap. The thing is, there is no legal requirement that a will be drawn up by a lawyer. All you are paying them to do is express your wishes in writing. You can write your own last will and testament on the back of an envelope if you want, so long as you get it properly witnessed by two adults.
Of course, it’s not a good idea to write your will on the back of an envelope. Unless you have considerable legal knowledge yourself, it is best to have some input from a lawyer, otherwise even if you spend hours drafting and redrafting your will you may well miss some vital element out.
A good middle way is to use a will template pre-drafted by a lawyer. These are available online – for example, the site www.legalwill.com.au offers downloadable do-it-yourself kits for $25, or $40 for the couple’s kit, if you and your partner both still need to make a will. Using a will template will ensure that you don’t forget something important, and the common pitfalls people fall into when making their own will will be avoided.
A DIY will kit also means that the process will be straightforward and thorough. The kit available from www.legalwill.com.au includes practice will forms, legal will forms and executors’ memorandums. All you have to do is set up an account online, and then you will be guided through every step of the process, from the naming of your executors to directions for your funeral – you can even leave personal messages for those you leave behind.
And you don’t need to worry about the safety of your details online. www.legalwill.com.au uses 128-bit encryption, and your account is password protected – your privacy is as jealously guarded as if you were in a lawyer’s office!
The other advantage of creating a will online rather than in a lawyer’s office is that it can be easily updated if your circumstances change. If you used www.legalwill.com.au to draw up your will, then you can modify it at no extra charge, but if you used a lawyer you will need to pay them an extra fee to update it for you.
The important thing, once you’ve created your will online, is to print it off, get it signed and witnessed, and put it somewhere safe, somewhere where it will not get lost or stolen, or risk damage by flood, fire or damp. And make sure you tell your executors where it is – if your family spend a week searching your house then give up, never realising that you did make a will and it’s hidden in the second-best teapot, then you might as well not have bothered in the first place. If you don’t have anywhere suitably secure in your own home, then consider leaving your will with a specialist storage company for last wills and testaments, such as Will Store Pty Ltd.
Creating a DIY will online is easy, affordable and legally sound, so there is no excuse for putting it off any longer!