Most Australians are savvy about what Wills are and what Wills are for – in a nutshell, Wills dictate what happens to your assets and are used after you die. What we as Australians seem to be less well informed about is why we need a Will (my spouse or kids will just sort it out, right?!) and how to go about making a Will (I can just write down what I want to happen and those will be my wishes, yeah?). Not really. But simple is often best so how about we keep to the basics and answer common questions about a making a Will in NSW?
Can I write my own Will in NSW?
Sure can. As long as you have legal expertise and know the legal formalities of what is required for a legally enforceable Will and make sure you adopt them. Also knowledge of what happens to assets on death. The fool proof way of doing this is by getting an estate planning lawyer who has legal knowledge and experience to make sure your Will has the effect you want it to have. Some assets don’t go through your Will, even if you’ve written in your Will that they’re to be gifted somehow.
There are numerous platforms that also offer DIY Wills or Will kits – these can be good enough (or not) depending on many different factors including the platform itself, your assets, your wishes and your family dynamics. Often intentions aren’t expressed clearly enough and the drop down boxes or spaces provided to fill in don’t allow for what is to happen in different circumstances, or even distribution of certain assets.
If you don’t get it right you may end up leaving an informal Will that will require Court approval to adopt some of the provisions. Just because you’ve written it down and you say it’s your Will does not unfortunately mean it is a legal Will. A DIY Will is also more likely to be contested.
We’ve seen many a “Will” written down with lovely thoughts and wishes to family members and what’s to happen with various assets. Unfortunately, at best, these were usually just a representation of wishes and not a valid Will. To get them over the line required the next of kin to apply to the Supreme Court and to seek Orders to rectify the document. Pricey? Sure is. Painful? Yeah kind of. Avoidable? Definitely.
What makes a Will valid in Australia?
The general legal basics:
- Wills must be in writing.
- Wills must be signed by the Willmaker.
- Wills must be witnessed by 2 persons present there at the same time.
- Wills must be made by a person over 18 years of age.
While these are the defaults, Wills should also be dated, should appoint an executor and should be clear in gifting of assets or estate. Ideally, a Will should also provide some authorities and powers to the executor so they can get the job done.
What revokes a Will in Australia?
- A document stating the Will is revoked
- Destruction of the will
Generally, Wills have a provision in them stating all previous Will are revoked.
If you’ve recently gotten married or divorced, definitely get on to updating your Will.
Can you alter your Will once signed?
Any amendments made to the document after it’s signed are not valid. And if those handwritten notes are made to the original Will document, the executor will likely need to explain when and how those amendments were made and there’s a risk of the Will being rendered invalid.
If you need minor changes made to your Will, it’s best to get a Codicil prepared for your Will, or simply update your Will by making a fresh one.
Even pulling out the staple from your original Will and re-stapling it (after copying or scanning it) can raise questions by the Court if your executor has to apply for Probate as it raises the question of whether the Will has been tampered with.
Leaving your Will in the safe custody of the estate planning lawyer who prepared it means not having these sorts of unexpected surprises.
How much does it cost to make a Will in NSW?
Will kits can range from being complimentary up to $200-ish. Depending on the level of experience, how competitive they are and their location, a law firm may charge anywhere from $250-ish upward for a Will. Our blackboard prices can be found here. It’s always a good idea to deal with a lawyer who does Wills as their main legal area of practice; the law around Wills can be complex. Not getting the Will right and/or having it contested may cost well in excess. And peace of mind of having looked after your family? Priceless.
How do you make a Will in NSW?
Send us an email at [email protected], give us a call on 1300 034 487 or book in an online appointment through our website here. We have free 10 minute chats if you want to know how un-scary it actually is to get your Will sorted. We’ll likely praise your initiative in getting this important task sorted and your family will praise you for protecting their future and your legacy.
We’ll look after you.