There has been a recent explosion of online services spruiking the ability for you to do your own Will, with the click of a few buttons, at almost no cost.
Some overseas websites even offer a money-back guarantee – although I’m not sure to whom any refund gets paid!!
I honestly have trouble grasping how effective a “one size fits all” or “tick a box” approach is.
I can pick up a hammer, but I know I’m not a carpenter.
I might end up with a new Will that is “legal” but does it in fact do what I want?
- How is my super going to be dealt with?
- What provision should I make for my children?
- Can my defacto partner challenge the gift to my children?
- What happens to my life insurance?
- What happens to property I own jointly with someone?
- What about my business assets?
- What happens if there are doubts about my mental capacity?
The consequences of getting your estate planning wrong can easily outweigh the “savings” of doing things yourself.
Even if you think all the issues have been adequately considered, the document still must be signed correctly once it is “generated”, in order to be valid.
This aspect was considered by the Supreme Court of New South Wales only a few days ago.
In a tragic set of circumstances, the court had to decide whether answers to an online questionnaire, made by a person who had taken their own life, constituted their Will.
After a number of (no doubt) costly court hearings, which ended up involving the Attorney-General of New South Wales, the court declared the online Will questionnaire to be the deceased’s Will.
The Judge made a specific point of acknowledging that digital communication is an essential part of society, but cautioned that the case being considered was very much “fact-specific” and if it wasn’t for other written statements made by the deceased about the online Will, the court may not have declared it to be one.
When I need some carpentry work done, I get a carpenter.