Believe me when I say that I have a love, hate relationship with Will kits.
I love them because, no matter how many I see, there are ALWAYS problems with them. Issues arise not necessarily through the blank document (or template) itself, but by the way people complete them (or sometimes don’t complete them). And in my world, problems equal profits. However, at the same time my feelings towards them are best described as one leaning in the direction of hatred. In fact, it is fair to say that a big part of me really despises them.
You see Will kits, by their very nature, sell an illusion of safety.
I am in the business of justice, and nothing (and I mean nothing), angers me more than the injustice that arises from a product being sold that makes promises that it can’t possibly deliver on. While most people are aware of the reality that they need a Will, too often there exists a tension between this and the reality that one will need to devote funds to have one drawn up by a professional. The creators of Will kits understand this, and accordingly, claim to provide the ‘peace of mind’ that comes with a legally binding Will yet for a fraction of the cost of a professional Will.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In nearly twenty years in the legal profession I have observed time and time again how the most seemingly innocuous of issues arising from estates where a Will Kit was used, often leads to big issues (and expenses) when it comes to the finalisation of an estate.
This was made quite evident through a recent example examined by the Supreme Court in South Australia.
In the matter in question, the Will Kit appointed the wife and son “A” as an executor. The pre-printed section of the form continued with the words:
“…but if he/she/they does not/do not outlive me or is/are unwilling to act or incapable of acting then I appoint….”, and second son “B” was named.
In this situation the wife pre-deceased the Will writer, and as such, the question which was referred to the Supreme Court Judge, was whether son “A” was only appointed executor if the wife had survived, or whether, as the case was, the two sons “A” and “B” would act jointly as executors.
It was quite likely that the two sons did not care who acted as executor. If either one, or both acted, or neither; so long as the estate could be administered with the least amount of fuss, delay and of course, expense.
Unfortunately, the Probate Registry do not see things that way at all.
So off they went to the Supreme Court (at considerable expense) to get an order as to who should act as executor. Turns out the Judge found that both sons would act as executors as other sections of the pre-printed and completed will kit indicated that a joint appointment was intended.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I love will kits.
You stuff them up, I get to fix them!
The old adage, ‘you get what you pay for’ applies here. A cheap Will is most certainly that. Cheap. Have your Will professionally prepared by a solicitor skilled in all aspects of Wills and Estates. An investment in this now will save your beneficiaries money and heartache later, at a time when they would probably prefer to be honouring your memory.