Do-it-yourself (DIY) kits promise a cheap and easy way to make your own will. CHOICE put four to the test, asking our experts to evaluate them. We found will kits can be an excellent research tool when drafting your own will and there are huge differences. Depending on your situation and skills, the best ones can enable you to do a DIY will. However, CHOICE recommends obtaining legal advice, particularly if you have small children, complex financial affairs or a complicated family situation.
Who needs a will?
If you haven’t got around to writing or updating your will, you’re not alone: according to the NSW Public Trustee, about 40% of Australians don’t have a valid will. Even if you’ve made one at some point, it’s important to keep it up to date. If you marry, for example, your will is likely to be revoked; and if one of your beneficiaries dies, part of your will may no longer be valid.
Drafting your will may not be a pleasant task, but it’s essential for protecting your loved ones. If you die without a will, your estate will be distributed according to rules set out in state legislation. This may mean your spouse is not adequately protected, especially if they’re de facto.
There are many pitfalls in drafting your will; in most cases, it’s safer to get expert advice:
Financial arrangements made in your lifetime, such as debts, joint tenancy or binding financial arrangements, don’t die with you – they must be honoured by your estate.
is a minefield: selecting the beneficiaries may be up to the discretion of the trustee of your fund – someone you’ve never met and who does not know you or your family situation.
Even if you disinherit immediate family members or dependants, they may still be able to contest your will.
If one of your beneficiaries dies, part of your will may no longer be valid and the gift you leave to them may instead be distributed according to state government rules.