Are DIY Will kits or internet Wills a good idea? Ok – you are reading something written by a lawyer who specialises in Wills and estate planning. Read on though – what are your options if you really do only need something very basic?
I have to say that estate lawyers love DIY Wills. They are regularly mucked up. Where there is money at stake to fight over, lawyers will be sure to get a fair chunk of it. Please, when you ignore my Will quote, just leave a copy with my letterhead in the packet with that “legal Will” you’ve done for yourself, so your family knows who to come to see when it goes wrong.
DIY Will kits have been around for many years. There are now several options for DIY Wills on the internet – some free – some even produced by legal firms. You fill out a form and out pops a Will, with instructions on how to sign it. They are really just another way of filling out a Will kit form. The Will produced may be valid and clear in its terms. However, estate law is complex and everyone’s circumstances are different. How would you know whether this basic Will is appropriate for you? You just don’t know, what you don’t know. When it goes wrong – estate litigation is expensive and traumatic. Your family won’t be able to sue the Will kit people for giving you something that you shouldn’t use. Their terms and conditions make it clear that you are on your own – you use their product at your risk!
But does it have to be so expensive to get a basic Will done? In my experience, about 70% of those who see a lawyer for a Will, end up with something they could have done themselves using a Will kit. Why should you pay big money for that?
Most people will pay several times as much as they’d pay for a Will, each year for house insurance. I guess it is all about perception of the value of this particular insurance policy.
Have a read of this article arguing the case against DIY Wills . It is from the USA, but almost all of the issues it raises are just as relevant in Australia. If you have an aversion to spending money with lawyers, have a look at this Choice Magazine review of DIY Will Kits.
I didn’t answer the question about why it has to be so expensive though did I! I just did the usual sales routine. Just quietly, the answer is that for 70% of the population – it doesn’t need to cost that much!