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Estate planning trap no. 2 – home made Wills

Can people be trusted to complete their DIY Will-kits correctly, use clear language and sign them properly?

In our experience, unfortunately not.

Homemade Wills cause untold mischief and distress.  Let’s look at some examples:

  • Giving assets away twice – A mother had a home in Dianella.  In the home was a safe.  In the safe was $1m of cash and jewellery.  Mother’s Will left some items of jewellery to one daughter and the “home and all contents” to other family members.  You can see the dilemma. The court was asked to decide whether the words “home and all contents” included the jewellery in the safe – it found that it did.
  • Unclear gifts of land – A father’s Will stated “the sale proceeds of my residence at 19 Bushell Drive, Merriwa” to my eldest daughter.  Bushell Drive was sold by the father during his life and he used the proceeds to buy a strata unit in a retirement village.  On his death, did the gift of his “residence” apply to his retirement unit?  The Court said no, and the daughter missed out.
  • A couple left everything to each other. Full stop. What’s wrong with that?

Homemade Wills are the ultimate false economy.  Well-meaning souls think they’ll save a few hundred dollars in legal fees and make their own Will, only to die and leave their loved ones a mess that costs tens of thousands in legal fees to sort out.

The cost of a professionally drafted Will is a few hundred dollars for a simple Will up to a few thousand if very complex; whereas the value of the estate dealt with is often in hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.

Lawyers will express your wishes clearly.  Making your Will is easy and you might even enjoy the process.

Furthermore, we can confirm that the act of making a Will does NOT hasten or summon your death!

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