Will Kits: Should You Use Them?
A will kit is an online or hardcopy do-it-yourself option for preparing and implementing a Last Will and Testament for yourself or a family member. While a will kit is usually advertised as an inexpensive, no-hassle solution for preparing and setting forth the desires for your estate or the estates of your loved ones upon death, there are some important things you should know before you decide to take this path. Experiencing the loss of a family member or preparing for your own future can be a daunting task, and taking extra precautions to ensure a seamless estate management process can be a positive move. Let’s take a look at why will kits have become so prevalent along with some of the risks in using will kits before you decide to invest in one.
Why are will kits so prevalent?
In recent years, we have seen do-it-yourself will kit offers emerge on TV, throughout the Internet, and within tax and financial software programs alike. It is a perfect time for entrepreneurs to capitalize. Mobile and social technology make it easy to push brand marketing, web-based businesses are flourishing, and the baby-boomer era is presenting an intense senior market for which these types of services will soon be needed. People have access to thousands of free forms and documents on the Internet, and the do-it-yourself model is promoted as a money-saving solution for just about everything—from financial and real estate services to home repair and decor. While many potential online business owners see this as the perfect time to push do-it-yourself will kits, the risks may outweigh the only advantage—a low-cost solution—which could very easily turn into an expensive mistake for you or your loved ones.
What are some of the risks in using will kits?
A will kit may seem reasonable at first, with no audience, no questions asked. The intention is to download a software program and wade through pages and pages of online forms that use pop-up help to get you from one question to the next. If you make it through these pages with no professional advice and no one to really explain the sections or answer your questions, this is only one-third of the process. Preparing and implementing a lawful and genuine Last Will and Testament that will hold up in a court of law and be viable for you and your family is more involved. The other two-thirds of the process may include a number of important considerations:
• Documents must conform to the conditions of relevant will making legislation
• Documents must be printed and executed in the presence of witnesses
• Executors, beneficiaries, and substitutes for both must be correctly named
• Banking information must be secured
• Documents must be properly signed and dated
• Will language must be specific, and some language is simply not acceptable in wills
• Gifts must be correctly written; giftees may not be capable of accepting gifts
• Will kits do not cover superannuation pension funds, those funds reserved to pay workers’ pensions at the time they retire
• Provisions must be made for marriages, divorces, and other events that change the course of legal documentation (the legal act of divorce revokes references to a former spouse via an executor or beneficiary in the will)
• There are some people in your life for whom the law may require you make provision
• Some proposed beneficiaries may be better catered for by testamentary trust rather than a simple will
Without the presence of a lawyer or legal advisor, many of these items are not considered, which can easily negate self-made documents pertaining to a will. Will kits lead to unintended legal complications that can be avoided with proper counsel. Owen Hodge Lawyers may be able to answer some important questions about this critical decision. It is necessary to consider your loved ones by establishing a proper will before an unexpected situation arises, and experienced solicitors are available and willing to help. In any case, beware of online will kit marketers that provide product disclaimers; most of them remove any responsibility if the will kit is not effective.
Why should I seek a lawyer to prepare my will?
Since your will is possibly the most important document you will ever have prepared, your diligence in ensuring its legitimacy and accuracy is essential. You want to understand the components of your will and provide the correct responses. By selecting a lawyer or other legal counsel to prepare your will, you enter into a relationship with a skilled professional who will be there with you during the process and well beyond in the case of issues. You rely on both a lawyer and an insurance company to secure your assets and ensure your wishes are carried out in the way you intended.
When you establish a solid relationship with a certified solicitor such as the experts at Owen Hodge Lawyers, you leave your will and estate in the hands of experts in their field, and your family will not be left with legal issues and expensive fees due to incorrect documents and mis-information. There are a number of important reasons to establish a relationship with a trained professional for will and estate planning services:
• A will is extremely personal and should be tailored to meet your individual circumstances
• The laws surrounding wills and estate administration vary between states and territories; selecting a lawyer to prepare your will considers the law in your location
• Your intentions may not be validated in a do-it-yourself will
• Precise language is the only way to communicate your intentions. Vague or conflicting wording and poor structure in your documents can negate your intentions or incur heavy costs
• A professionally prepared will takes into account the tax implications after a death
• You investing in a long-term, secure relationship to manage your needs now, in the future, and after a death
• You gain an edge for your business and investment assets that a will kit will not consider
• A lawyer is versed in the legal considerations for blended families—in which a parent has children that are not genetically related to another parent
While will kits may seem like an attractive, low-cost solution for your will or the wills of your family, carefully consider the long-terms costs and unintended legal complications of erroneous documents. Contact Owen Hodge Lawyers today on 1800 770 780 to prepare the most important documents of your life. Do not wait until it’s too late.