9 min read

Online Wills vs DIY Will Kits: What's the difference?

DIY Will Kits and Online Wills are both easy and cost-effective ways to safeguard your assets, appoint a legal guardian and engage in effective financial planning. But do both DIY Will Kits and Online Wills provide a legal Will which covers these estate plan basics? Are your loved ones better looked after in one or the other? And which option will save you the most money in conducting estate administration? We provide a step by step guide on the important differences to be aware of.

Laptop with notebook and forms

Will kits and online Wills are both cost-effective and practical. Today we offer a comparison of these important documents to help determine which is the best choice for you, your estate assets and your family members.

We're living in an age where answers to virtually every question are at our fingertips (think Google, Wikipedia, and even Facebook). With such easy access to online knowledge, we've entered a whole new world of creative avenues. From making sourdough to tending exotic plants, there seems to be no limit on what we can do online.

Estate planning and Will making are no different. They've entered a new era where a hands-on, DIY attitude- where modern technology is pioneering a whole new era of estate planning.

Modern Australians have caught on to the fact they no longer need to pay an estate attorney for an expensive Will that may be more complicated than they need. Now faced with the alternative of an affordable online Will Kit, Australians are catching onto the fact that a full service lawyer can be complicated, costly and time consuming in comparison.

For years, this traditional Will writing method has generated substantial financial and time barriers to Wills; contributing to a widespread reluctance to tackle estate planning and a resulting high rate of Australians who have died intestate.

As Wills have caught up to the 21st century, many Australians are turning consideration and their estate planning business to Australian DIY Will kits and online Wills.

So what exactly are the options to make a DIY Will or online Will in Australia and how do they compare?

What is a Will kit?

You can buy an Australian DIY Will kit from a wide range of businesses and organisations, including:

  • News agencies
  • Australia Post and other post offices
  • insurance companies
  • the public trustee office in your state or territory (NSW, VIC, QLD, SA, ACT, WA, NT, TAS)

Some estate planning or seniors' organisations may even offer a free Will kit.

While DIY Will kits are cheap and simple to use, they come with some important caveats:

Are DIY Wills a Legal Document?

Without anyone checking to make sure a Will kit has been filled out correctly, Will writers are liable to incorrectly fill out their Will.

Whether it's through populating it with items that are either not possible for their executor to achieve, or missing key sections, these mistakes may jeoporadize the creation of a valid Will.

With this in mind, the cost benefit of DIY Will may in fact be offset by the lack of support and risk these platforms pose. Given that a person's property, bank accounts or personal items might be left without a valid Will to protect them, the legal fees further down the line might end up costing more.

Aside from the money, an invalid Will also leaves grieving families with stress, drawn out probate processes and fees, and family disputes on how investments and other assets should be distributed.

Downsides to an Australia Post or Other DIY Will Kits

Lack of Flexibility

Australia Post and DIY Will kits might seem great, on the surface. But dig a bit deeper, and it doesn't take much to realize that they're usually paper based and static- meaning they can't be easily updated to reflect your current circumstances.

As Wills are supposed to be reflective of your current wishes for what should happen when you die, this rigidity can create issues when wishes or relationships change over time. This could be due to changes in relationships- impacting the money assigned to a specific beneficiary, or the appointment of power of attorney or guardian to minor children.

Your Assets Are Vulnerable Without a Valid Will

Similarly, changes in circumstances, such as growing families or marriage, could also influence how you deal with your death plans and current assets. A paper-based form cannot be readily changed to meet current circumstances, and so need to be destroyed and replaced each time a significant change needs to be made.

If a change isn't reflected in a Will, and the document is left out of date, or if it isn't kept in a safe place and gets lost, then there is a risk this person will die intestate. This risks leaving ambiguities after death regarding which beneficiaries receive the remaining assets and money.

Inability to Deal With Complex Estates

Australia Post & other DIY Will kits only cover the most basic estate planning scenarios. In more complex situations, they can fall short when it comes to providing a legally enforceable plan to distribute your estate's assets.

Having a private organisation, shares or a self managed super fund may all be situations that need a more considered approach, and the same goes for guardianship of children and blended family situations.

As a new Will kit generally doesn't offer advice on what is required in these scenarios, or when to contact bespoke legal attorney, the legal protections you may be trying to put in place during retirement or at any age, may not be there with a DIY Will Kit.

To Wrap Up DIY Will Kits

In summary, while DIY Will kits offer a simple and cheap option to make a Will, they may leave you with some worrying gaps in your estate planning.

Yes, you might save money at time of purchase. But you also might be leaving your family, business and property vulnerable if your DIY Will is not valid in court. This can cost stress, time and money, as well as risk your wishes on enduring powers of attorney or guardianships.

What is an Online Will?

Online Wills Are a Quick And Easy Way to Create a Legal Will

An online Will breaks down estate planning into simple steps, with a specially designed digital platform. Your Will is then completed in a downloadable, printable document that you can have signed and witnessed.

Safewill's online Will platform offers a simple, affordable and user-friendly way to create your Will in less than 20 minutes, and from the comfort of your home. There's no need for an appointment, yet you have the constant option to contact our specialised legal team for expert advice. Whether it's how to assign property to a specific beneficiary, fill out a specific form or deal with an estate in the aftermath of a sudden death- Safewill offers constant support without the need to pay extra fees each time.

Online Wills Have the Option to Tailor Your Will More Closely to Your Circumstances

Whilst online Wills are designed to cover the basic features of Will writing (including executorship, property management, appointing guardians for your children, and estate distribution), they also provide greater optionality in what you can list and appoint to suit your needs.

On top of the basic inclusions, online Will platforms give you the ability to leave more complex instructions such as specific gifts, pet care provisions, charitable donations, and even specify funeral wishes should the worst case scenario happen and you die suddenly.

It transforms a Will from being a black and white legal document to a holistic representation of your life and wishes. Our Platform, for example, extends as far as allowing you to leave notes for your executor in respect of locating the totality of your estate and property, and the different types of assets that you hold.

Online Wills Provide Access to Support And Guidance

Rather than being left to answer your own questions or try to make sense of legal language, Safewill offers extensive live support to ensure you are guided throughout the process of filling out your Will. Safewill's support team is available to help at the click of a button, and is there to answer any questions you may have about the Will writing process.

Online Wills Are Kept up to Date With Changes to the Law

Many online Will-writing platforms have been made in collaboration with lawyers, and are based on and updated to reflect current estate law. Some, like Safewill, even include having a lawyer review your application prior to finalising your Will to ensure you have filled out the questionnaire correctly. This provides a measure of comfort that you have filled out the Will completely that is often missing from DIY Will kits.

Online Wills Are Easy to Update

An important advantage over paper based DIY Will kits is that, being housed online, they're extremely easy to update when one of the following circumstances apply:

  • you get married or divorced
  • change in property ownership
  • you have children
  • you acquire a major new asset
  • death of a beneficiaries
  • Your wishes change

Safewill offers a cost effective subscription service that notifies you when there are changes to the law and allows you to make unlimited changes to your Will when you need to.

Online Wills Offer an Easy Means of Safe Storage

Paper based Will kits are prone to be misplaced, and often an Executor or beneficiaries may not even know that there is a Will in existence if it can't be located. Safewill allows you to securely store a digital copy of your signed Will, giving you the added peace of mind that your Will can always be located. You can even notify your Executor that your Will is stored with Safewill, providing an added measure of security that your document can be accessed by those who need it, when they need it.

To Wrap up Online Wills

Above all, online Wills like Safewill give you a streamlined and easy to understand process to complete your Will in no time at all. They use moden technology to provide a better, cheaper and more accessible means of writing your Will than has ever been possible.

Get started with your online Will today.

Last updated 27th August 2022
Tali Weinberg
Head Of Operations
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Safewill is an online service providing streamlined forms and information. Safewill is not a law firm or a substitute for a lawyer’s advice about complex estate planning issues.