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CHOICE reviews DIY Will Kits

@UtaMihm looks at the traps of drafting your own will. Read the article on DIY Will Kits.

If you have an experience you’d like to share, post it in the comments below.

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It would be helpful to have a score out of 10 or some sort of system that rates each type. The review doesn’t really clarify which are the best ones to use. Also, there are some online ones which would be interesting to have reviewed too. I was going to go to the public trustee but they charge a % of the estate which can add up to be quite a lot of money.

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Thanks for the feedback@chesai70 - we’ll take this into consideration for future updates.

We’ve updated our article on DIY will kits:

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Hey Brendan i think you missed one to add i.e YourWills

Your Wills is a Melbourne based and owned company providing a quick and efficient way of creating a Will, in your own time, at an affordable cost. Despite the mystique of Wills, if your Will is simple and straightforward it does not require prohibitive costs and half a day to visit a legal professional.

We want to remove the stigma and confusion that surrounds the topic of creating of a Will by making the conversation approachable and the process relatable, easy-to-understand, fast and accessible. Your Wills is a simple, time efficient solution to providing a legally recognised Will online.

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Thanks @yourwills, I’ll be sure to pass on the suggestion to our finance team.

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It may be useful to also advise consumers of the options available through the Public Trustee in each State.

They may even be available free of charge depending on complexity and needs.
EG Qld https://www.pt.qld.gov.au/wills/making-a-will-step-by-step/

Choice does offer this important advice with the reviews:

Should you use a DIY will kit?

Going to a lawyer can be expensive, but will kits can be an excellent low-cost or free research tool. Depending on your situation and skills, they can help you write your will, but they can’t adequately handle complex situations such as blended families or self-managed super funds.

Making sure your loved ones are provided for is far too important to leave to chance, and the consequences could be disastrous if you get it wrong. We recommend you get some expert advice as well.

A word of caution, with all will kits, there is the considerable danger of not completing it properly. Especially with kits that aren’t in an electronic form, many lack prompts to complete necessary sections or questions and it can be easy to overlook something.

Our experience is that even simple things can complicate the task for the executor/s hence the need for a will to be reliably prepared, who ever provides the document.

Wills are not necessarily expensive when prepared by a Solicitor compared to the effort and costs incurred at the time of execution. Estate planning and considerations such as future needs in retirement may also be considerations for some, especially couples or those with shared lifestyles.

P.S.
The following may not be reliable given our experiences in NSW and Qld.

It may be how fees are charged by some to settle an estate, although most solicitors will negotiate a fixed fee or fixed fee plus agreed expenses. It’s a trap to believe you need to pay based on the value of an estate. Every estate will have different needs and property/assets. Selling a $20M property to pass the proceeds to charity will take similar effort for the estate as for a $1M one. Settling to one beneficiary is simpler than 10 across the current and ex’s family especially if any choose to contest or argue. Probate may or may not be required for many different reasons, sometimes because of relatively minor assets or amounts of money.

Whoever prepares the will, the executors are responsible for the execution. There is no obligation to appoint the Public Trustee or Solicitor preparing your will as the Executor. There may be good reasons to do so. Appointing a suitable relative/s or trusted friend does not prevent them from using The Public Trustee or a Solicitor to execute a will on their behalf, or employ a solicitor’s services as needed.

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Good point, and I’ll add that a will should specify all costs of administrating the estate must come from the estate to absolve the executor from becoming liable. It is conceivable some estates could be 100% consumed by fees and worse. The executor needs to be protected from having to pay from their own resources, not suggesting solicitors should work pro bono. The executor has fiduciary duties they can be held liable for if it comes to egregious behaviour.

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One thing to note is the Public Trustee officers will push that the Public Trustee is the executor of your will. While this might suit some, they do charge for the privilege. One can push back and add their own executor to a will if they so chose. There may be resistance from the PT officers to do so, but one has to remember that a will is one’s own document and not that of the PT.

The above also applies to some solicitors as well.

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