If you die without a valid will, you die intestate and your estate is distributed (not according to your wishes) but pursuant to the statutory rules of intestacy. In other words, the State (not you) gets to decide who should inherit your estate.
But do I need a will prepared by a trained and skilled professional when I can buy a will kit from a newsagent or download one from the internet for a fraction of the fees charged by the skilled professional?
Consider the following;
- A will kit does not provide any explanation as to what assets actually form part of your estate and which assets do not. For example, superannuation death benefits and the proceeds of life insurance are technically not part of your estate. Depending on how it is legally held, your interest in the family home may also fall outside the estate. You will need specific advice as to what arrangements (outside of the provisions of the will) should be put in place to ensure that these non-will assets pass to your intended beneficiaries.
- A will kit does not provide any information or instruction as to strategies that can be utilised to avoid claims against your estate that may be brought by certain persons who have been excluded from the will.
- Because the will kit is essentially a form with little or no explanation as to the substantial body of law surrounding wills and their execution, homemade will makers rarely understand or appreciate the legal significance of what they have completed or omitted. Mistakes in drafting may remain unnoticed until the will maker dies resulting in the Court having to determine the outcome.
- Irrespective of the instructions that are provided with the kit, there is always the risk that execution and witnessing of the will is not carried out pursuant to the law with the result that the will is declared invalid which means no will at all.