An investigation by Finder observed that over half of Australians do not have a valid Will. In this post, we hope to explain why we all need a Will and why, in some cases, an online Will is adequate.
Why Do I Need a Will?
A Will is a legal document in which you can detail how you want your assets distributed after you have passed away. If you die without a legal Will, your estate will be allocated based on a pre-defined formula.
In Australia, you have to be 18 years old or over to be legally able to draft a Will. The Australian Government offers resources to assist with the drafting of a Will.
McCrindle estimates that over $3.5 trillion of wealth will change hands in Australia over the next 20 years through inheritance.
A Will is a remarkably powerful legal document. There are four minimum requirements that your Will must follow. Otherwise, the court may decide that your Will is not valid. If this happens, your assets will be distributed in the same manner as if you did not have a Will at all.
Of course, lawyers are well versed in how to draft a legally binding Will. Using a competent estate planning lawyer, especially if you have a complicated estate, can save your loved ones a lot of pain and money when the time comes.
However, it is not a myth that lawyers are expensive. A standard lawyer-drafted Will can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands. On top of that, a lawyer will charge potentially hundreds for simple updates throughout the life of your Will.
The Difference Between a Will Kit and an Online Will
Both Will Kits and online Will providers aim to make it more accessible and easy for customers to draft their Wills.
To make the Will Kit easy to use and simple to follow, the Will Kit is limited and therefore can only cater for a few scenarios. Online Wills like online stores can accommodate countless situations. Using technology, online Will providers can offer a more user-friendly experience while at the same time catering for niche use cases.
Are Online Wills and Will Kits Valid
As noted previously, Will Kits can only cater for a limited number of scenarios. Too bad if you do not fall within the limited parameter of the Will Kit. Any adjustments to the printed text or misuse of ambiguous wording of a Will Kit can render your Will invalid or lead to costly delays for loved ones.
How Much Does a Will Cost?
Online Wills cost a fraction of the price of lawyer-drafted Will and offer the same protection all things being equal.
Your Will will need to be updated when your circumstances change.
Over the last five years, I have bought and sold a house, invested in property and shares, and have even had a baby. Every one of these scenarios is an example of when I needed to review my Will.
The cost to update an online Will is zero, or much less than what a lawyer will charge for changes made.
Where Should I Store My Will?
Your Will is a physical document and needs to be stored safely.
You can also store your Will at the bank, a secure storage facility, in a safety deposit box, or safely at your home.
Online Will providers may offer mobile access. OneWill, for example, is an app from which you can access you Will and other estate planning documents any time, anywhere.
What Maintenance Does My Will Require
Will Kits, like lawyer-drafted Wills, cannot be easily updated. You can not cross out an old address, or remove a beneficiary from a Will Kit. You will need to buy a new Will Kit and start from the beginning.
Some online Will providers will allow you to update your Will and generate a new Will on the spot. This way, you can make adjustments quickly and easily, and for far less than a lawyer-drafted Will.
What About the Probate Process
As previously noted, you should consider a competent estate planning attorney if you have a complicated estate, or are a high net-worth individual.
You would rightly expect lawyer-drafted Wills to pass probate easily. For everyone else, Will Kits and online Wills are as legal as a lawyer-drafted Will, with a few things to consider.
Unfortunately, there are examples in the courts of ambiguous wording in Will Kits resulting in substantial cost and delays and therefore undue suffering for loved ones.
Nobody wants this for their family or friends. By offering only scenarios it can cater, OneWill offers probate compliant Wills. Where it cannot accommodate, the option does not exist in the app.