Why “Will-kits” are not cheap alternatives.
A Will-kit or a home-made Will appears to be a good bargain costing only approximately $20 or $30 as an “up-front” cost. However, a lot of people creating a home-made Will may be risking their entire estate without knowing it!
Not only are there certain formal requirements that need to be met but there are also interpretation issues. At Hatzis Lawyers our experienced estates lawyers have seen many cases in our offices around Brisbane.
The courts have seen an increase in litigation surrounding the validity of “home-made” Wills. Unfortunately, when litigation is involved in proving a Will this can cost your estate tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary legal fees. This means that the “home-made” Will was not so cheap after all!
A recent example
J and E made home made Wills. They previously had professionally drafted Wills but due to a dispute with one of their children (referred to as Child A) they decided to make new Wills.
J’s Will attempted to gift their property to the two other children (Children B and C) but the property was held as joint tenants and because J passed away first this gift failed. In addition, there was no residuary clause. The court held that because the document could not be considered to reflect his testamentary intentions then it could not be held to be his last valid Will.
E’s Will was substantially different compared to the draft Will that had been completed in the Will-kit. The draft Will purported to provide only a small entitlement to Child A (and effectively reducing his entitlement) while the final Will excluded Child A altogether.
Making matters worse, page 1 of the draft Will had been signed (which included the small entitlement to Child A) but no other pages of the draft Will had been signed. Page 1 of the final Will was not signed but the rest of the pages were.
The court held that there were too many inconsistencies in respect of the E’s Will and held it to be invalid.
In addition to all of this, the two witnesses of J and E’s signatures were not present at the same time as each other so this created a fundamental flaw to the Wills.
This meant that J and E’s previously professionally drafted Wills were held to be their last Wills and their children received their estate equally despite their attempts at either reducing or removing Child A’s entitlement.
If you have made a Will-kit yourself, we at Hatzis Lawyers strongly urge you to speak with one of our experienced Wills and estates lawyers to produce a proper Will and prevent you from falling into the same trap as J and E. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 428 947 to start this process as soon as possible.