The ‘curse’ of the homemade Will – danger of penny dreadful Wills

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The ‘Curse’ of the homemade Will

“On numerous occasions when dealing with a so-called homemade Will, I have observed they are a curse. A homemade Will which utilises what is sometimes known as a ‘Will kit’ is not much better. This case proves the point….”

Master Sanderson, Rogers v Rogers Young [2016] WASC 208

Kathleen Rogers loved her daughter, Alexandra. Mum’s Will left everything to her. Mum died of cancer when Alexandra was not yet 18. The Estate was intended to be held on trust until Alexandra was 25. Unfortunately, mum’s newsagency Will kit did not agree. The Will was ambiguous as to what ’25 years of age’ meant.

The penny dreadful Will kit cost the daughter $200,000: $100,000 to attack a Will and $100,000 to defend. It’s paid by the estate, so 18-year-old Alexandra lost out here. Mum could have gone to our law firm’s website and built a professional Will for a mere few hundred dollars.

The daughter not wanting to wait another 7 years for her money is understandable. Save your loved ones the headaches and stress.

 Is this unusual? 

This is not an unusual case. There are a lot of problems that can arise from people creating Wills without legal support.

Sadly, a number of non-law firms are putting Wills online. It seems very alarming that they are offering legal documents without being a law firm themselves and having the lawyers available for advice. Estate Planning is an extremely serious and important process and should be handled by experts.

 The Law Society of New South Wales agrees with us. They write:

“Some people choose to make their own Will. We think that’s a mistake. Although writing your own may seem easy enough, the law around Wills can be complex.”

Estate Planning is complex 

When you make a homemade Will, you risk not drawing it up properly or not expressing your intentions clearly enough. It’s also easy to create a tax liability which your beneficiaries will have to pay. Finally, a DIY Will is more likely to be contested, which means the whole process of giving away your assets could end up in Court.

That’s why, when you make your Will, it’s important you have it drafted by someone who understands the law and can advise you on the best way to make sure your assets end up where you want them to. And that means engaging a solicitor.”

Be very careful in dealing with non-law firm produced documents. It is not worth the risk.


Adjunct Professor, Dr Brett Davies, CTA, AIAMA, BJuris, LLB, LLM, MBA, SJD
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