We have posted about the need for making a Will as a matter of planning but what path should you take in order to make a Will. Any Will making path begins with discussion of your wishes and documenting them in order that your loved ones are aware of your choices.
Death is a deeply personal human experience and evokes different reactions, emotions, and perceptions from individuals, families, and society therefore your plans will change over your life time; these discussions should be ongoing as your values, preferences and priorities evolve due to changing circumstances, such conversations must be regularly reviewed, revisited and revised.
Many of you might take the option to purchase a Will kit at a post office or news agency, after all it appears to be the quickest most cost effective option compared with instructing a lawyer to draft a Will.
In an earlier post we discussed the problems that executors have had when a will does not comply with the legal formalities, is drafted poorly, or omits a provision that leads to unintended consequences. Any or all of these could end up costing your executors thousands of dollars to rectify. In many cases if your estate is modest, any type of litigation will further diminish the value of your estate.
In completing a Will kit the names of the intended beneficiaries may accidentally placed in an incorrect part of the will – after all we have posted recently about this being done by solicitors. The Will maker may innocently believe that if they have already referred to the person in another part of their will, for example by naming them as executor, then that also covers reference to them as the beneficiary of their will.
In some cases people leave written instructions as to how they wish their estate to be distributed – importantly a document like this is not binding and should be the basis of your Will. If you were to die this informal Will may be used as evidence of your testamentary intention but it will require litigation which will be expensive and time-consuming, particularly if the application is challenged.
It could also lead to unnecessary stress at an already stressful time.
I believe it is better to have a Will than to die intestate however if you have a complex estate or wish to establish trusts for minor children you should consult a lawyer.
Importantly if you use a Will kit follow the directions carefully and seek advice if you have a question ask! If your will isn’t legally valid, or the original cannot be found, it may not provide a benefit to your loved ones.
As we have posted before a Will is a planning document and should be reviewed every few years, and definitely changed at times such as getting married, buying a home, having children or the death of a loved one.
Dying is a universal experience. So we owe it to those around us to share our wishes for how we want to live at the end, how we will provide for the loved ones who grieve our loss and how our estate will be distributed.