Preparing your own Will with a DIY Will Kit
The post office sells them and you can even buy them online these days as well. The Do-It-Yourself Will Kit is a readily available product designed to help you to prepare your own Will – yourself.
The main benefit of the DIY Will Kit is that it can be cheap (relatively speaking). Most DIY Will Kits are sold for under $50. In some cases, the more expensive Will Kits offer an ‘advice’ line allowing you to speak to a lawyer about your Will Kit or have a lawyer check over your Will once you’ve completed it. Sometimes that advice is included as part of the DIY Will Kit and sometimes it’s additional depending on the advice or advice required. For the most part, regardless of the level of professional support that might be included, the DIY Will Kit is intended to be product that is sold for you to ‘do-it-yourself’, naturally – which brings us to the major downside.
The main drawbck to the DIY Will Kit is that you ‘do-it-yourself’. If you’ve bought a DIY Will Kit, then the chances are you’re probably not familiar with writing a Will (otherwise, I don’t think you’d buy one in the first place or be reading this article either for that matter). It also means that after going through the DIY Will Kit and aside from anything else you may have gained from reading other resources like this website, your understanding of Will writing may be limited to or largely influenced by the DIY Will Kit. If that’s the case, then it means your understanding of writing a Will is subject to how well the DIY Will Kit was written, whether its scope properly addressed your situation, and whether you were able to understand (and were actually are able to follow) its instructions so that you could write your Will. At the end of the day, do you really know whether you’ve done it right?
Right now, you’re probably thinking that I’m against DIY Will Kits and I’m arguing against their use or trying to persuade people not to buy them. But no – that’s not the case at all. In fact, DIY Will Kits have their role and purpose, but it’s important that if you’re buying one that you’re aware of its limitations and to decide whether it’s right for you or not.
The NSW Law Society recently hosted a Will Awareness Day focusing on the pitfalls of relying on DIY Will Kits.
DIY Will Kits vs Professional Services
Any kind of professional service raises the same issues. As a professional, a lawyer who is both trained in law and who has experience in providing legal services in the area of Will drafting, it is reasonable to expect that you’ll receive the right advice or services when it comes to preparing your Will. If you choose to do it yourself, it might not seem that difficult but the biggest risk is that you don’t know what you don’t know. You haven’t had the experience or exposure that will help you identify the risks or the issues no matter how much research you might do over the internet or regardless of how many people you may ask.
When assisting clients in preparing their Wills, one of the biggest challenges that I often face is ‘undoing’ the bad advice or bad information that clients have accumulated over time. Maybe they’ve heard something over dinner from a friend, seen it on television or heard it on the radio, or maybe they’ve read it in a newspaper or magazine – or maybe even the internet. That’s why you’re reading this article, isn’t it?
But allow me to gently warn you, none of these sources will give you the right advice – being advice that has been tailored to your situation and properly addresses your needs or your wishes. These days there’s information overload. You can research and gather all the information you may ever need from various sources, but how relevant is it to you and how do you apply it?
In fact, many of these sources may not always provide you with the right information – do you believe everything you read on the internet? Or even if it provides you with the right information, it’s with the wrong application and it just doesn’t apply to your situation. There’s often a false sense of understanding and misplaced confidence in this ‘cheaper’ alternative, which in the long term may not actually be cheaper and may even cost you more. Just because one solution is right for someone, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right solution for you. Do yourself (and your family or loved ones) a favour by ensuring that you obtain professional advice that is relevant and applicable to you.