Problems With Home-Made Wills

A Will is a legal document in which you state how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. It allows you to choose an executor, who will be responsible for making sure your wishes are met. But can you make a Will yourself?

Technically, yes. But it is not in your best interests to draft your own Will. In some cases having a home-made Will can be even worse than having no Will at all. Some of the most common problems with home-made Wills include:

  • Failure to date the will
  • Not appointing an executor
  • Not allowing for the situation where a beneficiary dies before you
  • Failure to sign in accordance with legal requirements
  • Failure to have Will witnessed in accordance with legal requirements, thereby invalidating the Will
  • Attempt to gift assets which are not owned solely by you
  • Failure to dispose of all assets
  • Use of ambiguous words or words which have a different legal meaning to their ordinary meaning

These any many other errors can have significant consequences for your home-made Will and potentially void it entirely.

This can mean:

  • Your wishes as to gifts to friends and family (beneficiaries) may fail
  • Questions regarding capacity and undue influence are more easily raised
  • Taxation and other technical issues may not be addressed or considered
  • Any failure to comply with legal formalities may result in delay to the administration of the estate
  • Any beneficiary who acts as a witness may become disentitled to a gift in the Will

So why use a professional to prepare your Will?

Unnecessary costs and delays in administration may result from the problems and consequences associated with home-made Wills.

It is easier and cheaper to ensure that your Will is correct while you’re alive than for your executor to try to fix it after you’ve passed away. The small amount you may save in professional fees is a false economy when compared to the potential consequences for your estate.

If you have questions about your Will and would like to book an appointment to prepare your estate plan with one of our experienced solicitors, call the Public Trustee on 1800 068 784 or visit www.publictrustee.gov.au.