DIY Will kits and online Wills are both cost-effective and practical. But how do they measure up against each other and which one is the best choice for you?
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’re trying our hand at everything from making sourdough and tending exotic plants to tackling tricky renovation projects.
Estate planning and Will making are no different. They’ve entered a new era where a hands-on attitude and modern technology are taking centre stage.
Modern Australians have caught on to the fact that they do not necessarily need to engage a lawyer for an expensive Will that may be more complicated than they need. Added to that is the fact that using a full service lawyer can be complicated, costly and time consuming.
All of which mean that Australians are turning in larger numbers to DIY Will kits and online Wills for estate planning.
So what exactly are the options to make a DIY Will or online Will in Australia and how do they compare?
You can buy a DIY Will kit from a wide range of businesses and organisations including:
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:
Without anyone checking to make sure a Will kit has been filled out correctly, Will writers are liable to incorrectly fill out their Will, populate it with items that are either not possible for their executor to achieve or results in the Will being invalid, or miss key sections that need to be filled out. All of these situations incur a risk that the Will may be ineffective when the time comes to use it.
Wills are supposed to be reflective of your current wishes for what should happen if you were to pass away. For most of us, these wishes may change over time, either due to changes in relationships or circumstances (such as growing families or getting married). Paper-based documents 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 If a change isn't reflected in a Will, and the document is left out of date (for example if a person gets married after writing their Will), the Will may not even be valid by the time it surfaces.
In more complex situations, unfortunately, they can fall short when it comes to providing a plan to distribute your estate’s assets. Having a private company, 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 Will kit generally doesn't explain what is required in these scenarios, or when bespoke legal advice should be sought, the legal protections you may be trying to put in place may not be there.
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.
An online Will allows you to turn estate planning instructions entered via a specially designed digital platform into a downloadable, printable document that you can sign and have witnessed.
Safewill is an example of an online Will platform that offers a simple, affordable and user-friendly way to create your Will, in less than 20 minutes, and from the comfort of your home.
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, 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 such as Safewill give you the ability to leave more complex instructions such as specific gifts, petcare provisions, charitable donations, and even specify funeral wishes. It transforms a Will from being a black and white legal document to a holistic representation of your life and wishes. Safewill, for example, extends as far as allowing you to leave notes for your executor in respect of locating the totality of your estate, and the different types of assets that you hold.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.