Preparing your own will can be intimidating, as it such an important legal document you do not want to make any mistakes. Especially when it comes to estate law, the wording of a will can be very important.
Unfortunately, half of all Australian die without leaving a valid will. Although it is preferable to have your will drafted by a professional lawyer, preparing your own is possible so long as you take the proper precautions.
If your situation is complicated, do not attempt a DIY will kit, rather go straight to a professional. If you feel like your circumstances are fairly straightforward though, read the below points to make sure you are dotting ‘i’s’ and crossing your ‘t’s’.
1. Make Sure To Read The Instructions On Your Will Kit Very Carefully
Australian DIY will kits, such as the ones purchased at your local post office, may seem fairly straightforward, but do not leave anything up to chance. Reading everything in your booklet thoroughly before putting pen to paper is highly recommended.
2. Have An Objective Witness Prepared
Before preparing your will, make sure to have two objective witnesses at hand to sign your document. Objective witnesses are not beneficiaries of any sort. And, remember, when you are choosing an Executor, choose someone younger than you; this way, they are more likely to outlive you. Morbid as it may sound, the last thing you need is a dead executor.
3. Tell Your Family About The Will You Are Writing
It is important for your family to be aware of your will. To avoid potential conflict, inform your family in person of your wishes. This also allows them the opportunity to ask you any questions they feel are pertinent.
4. Do Not Leave Anything To Chance, Be Specific
It is compulsory, when naming an heir, to state their date of birth, where they live and their relationship to you. If you are giving away assets, such as a home, be specific about the inheritance. If it is a house, make sure you write in detail about the house, such as a description, rather than just mentioning the address.
5. Consider Every Alternative
Be prepared to have multiple inheritors in case the beneficiaries you’ve listed are unable to accept the gift.
6. Update Your Will Regularly
It is easy to forget that you have a will, especially if you are still relatively young. Make sure to update your will regularly, at least every two years. Life circumstances can change rapidly. There may be deaths in the family, more property bought, changes in relationship statuses such as divorce.
All these things need to be accounted for to reflect your circumstances as best as possible.
7. Keep Duplicate Copies In Safe Places
Consider passing a copy of your will to somebody trustworthy, such as your executor or kept locked up in a safe box at your local bank.