Writing a Will can ease the stress for both you and your loved ones when you die by providing you with peace of mind in making sure that your loved ones will be provided for when the time comes. However, often people wonder whether it is worth getting a lawyer to write a Will for themselves.
Are Lawyers Necessary to Write a Will?
While DIY Will kits can be found on websites, in post offices and sometimes from life insurance companies, it is not advisable to use these services.
Common mistakes made by people who choose to do their own Will include not signing the document properly, not having it witnessed correctly, and trying to bequeath assets or part of their estate when they don’t have full ownership over it. Not only does this create a massive conflict after the death, but it also takes longer to resolve, and more importantly costs more, and creates heartache at a time when you don’t need added stress in your life.
Step 1: Drafting Your Will
Though fees can vary, you can organise a fairly simple Will with a lawyer for approximately $500–$800. It is advised that you update your Will every five years, or when significant life events happen, such as buying a house, marrying, having children or a divorce.
Step 2: Consider All Possible Situations
Try to think of future scenarios that may impact you and your family significantly. It is often concerning to think about but it is vital to address possible scenarios where you and your named beneficiaries in your Will pass away at the same time, for example in an aeroplane or car accident. In this case you may want to name someone outside of your immediate family members, or a charity as an alternative beneficiary. By anticipating these alternative situations, you effectively have a number of alternative scenarios built into your Will.
Step 3: Select an Executor
It is important that you choose someone you trust to be the executor of your Will and who will be able to administer your estate according to your wishes. You must notify the executor that you have chosen them so they can be prepared. This is the person you name in your Will to administer your estate – your money and assets. That person hopefully understands your ‘view of the world’.
Step 4: Decide on Your Power of Attorney
Take this opportunity to discuss with us a power of Attorney. You need to prepare for a situation where you are incapable of making decisions due to being injured or sick or you’re not of sound mind. You can prepare for this by organising a Power of Attorney, so that the person of your choosing can act on your behalf to make financial and legal decisions. You can appoint more than one person as the Power of Attorney or put in place a substitute situation.
Step 5: Draft a Care Plan
In a care plan you are able to leave detailed instructions around your future care. You may have certain decisions already made around resuscitation on life support, pain relief and organ donation. Put your preferences in writing by completing an ‘Advance Care Directive’ and nominating someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Some care plans are incorporated in a Deed of Enduring Guardianship.
Step 6: Store Your Important Documents Safely
Finally, it is advised that you draft a document with all your important passwords and account details. This may include bank account details, debts (including loans), investments, insurance and superannuation details. You may choose to store this information in an envelope with your Will, saying, ‘Open in the event of my death’, or something similar. We allow clients the opportunity to store important documents with us (in safe custody) without charge to them.
It is important to be fully aware of what it takes to make a Will and other related documents and obtain professional legal assistance to ensure your wishes are accurately represented in those documents. If you would like further information regarding Wills or general Wills/ Power of Attorney / Guardianship advice, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced estate planning solicitors on 9963 9800 or via email at [email protected].