When it comes to preparing your estate plan and writing your will, you may be wondering whether you need a lawyer to help you through the process. Is it cutting corners to go without, or is it wasting money and time to go with?
In this blog post we cover everything you need to know about the feasibility of writing a Will without a lawyer, in a world where online will kit services are becoming increasingly available.
An online will kit allows you to create your Will using a website or software from home. These platforms allow you to input information about your assets, beneficiaries, and other important details, and then generate a Will that reflects your wishes
Offering a cheaper alternative to paying for a traditional lawyer, online Will kits promote their convenience and affordability as key selling points.
Granted, it’s no lie that an online Will kit can offer some benefits. These include:
Convenience - You can create a will from the comfort of your own home, without the need to visit a lawyer's office.
Affordability - Online wills are often much cheaper than hiring a lawyer to write your will.
Ease of use - Most online will services are designed to be user-friendly and easy to navigate.
But everything comes with a catch, right? So what’s the risk of flying solo when it comes to writing your Will in Australia?
Limited customization - DIY Online Will kits may not be able to accommodate more complex situations, such as trusts or business ownership.
Similarly, more intricate asset wishes for blended families or charity donations wishes can add complications, which may be difficult to navigate alone. Throwing things like power of attorney, multiple executors and enduring guardianship into the mix can also all increase customization needs. Similarly, complex financial assets may require more expertise when writing into a Will which will distribute these to family members.
Risk of errors - If you make a mistake when creating your Will online, it could have serious consequences for your estate.
For the wishes outlined in a Will to hold weight in court, the document has to be considered legally binding. This requires meeting several requirements- such as being signed in the presence of two witnesses.
Especially when estates get larger and more complicated, the risk of errors can also increase. Making mistakes can generate serious consequences for your intended beneficiaries, if the court does not view your DIY Will as legally valid.
2. Lack of legal advice - When you use a DIY online Will kit, you do not have access to the personalised legal advice that an estate lawyer can provide.
Yes, we can all Google answers to our legal queries. These days, we can even chatGPT it. But when it comes to giving up to date, professional and specialised legal advice tailored to you- a professional lawyer is really the only route.
Forgoing on this advice can have consequences for the legal validity of your Will, as well as the efficiency of the probate process if complications arise.
While online Wills can be a convenient and affordable option, there are some situations where it may be more beneficial to hire an estate lawyer to write your Will.
Whilst coming with a cost, an estate lawyer can provide personalised legal advice, ensure that your Will is legally valid, and help you navigate any complex situations that may arise.
For some people with a small estate and simple distribution wishes, they may navigate the DIY online Will kit process without issues down the line. For others, this may create more of a headache than its worth, and more stress, time and money wasted in the future.
There are certain situations where a DIY Will kit is strongly advised against. Knowing if this applies to your’e personal or estate situation is important when it comes to weighing up the pros and cons of hiring a lawyer to assist, advise or write your Will. And it can help justify the extra cost when you know it’s saving you that money further down the line.
Here are some reasons why you might consider hiring an estate lawyer to write your Will:
Complex family situations - If you have a blended family, estranged relatives, or dependents with special needs, an estate lawyer can help you create a will that addresses these complex situations.
If you expect family disputes to arise from your Will, it's more important than ever to ensure the document is legally valid. This can prevent future family provision claims disrupting your asset wishes, as well as doubts over capacity and undue influence.
Large estates - If you have significant assets or investments, an estate lawyer can help you create a plan to manage these assets and minimise tax liabilities.
Leaning on the expertise of a lawyer with specialised knowledge can help your Will become more efficient and effective at providing for your loved ones.
2. Business ownership - If you own a business, an estate lawyer can help you create a succession plan to ensure that your business continues to operate smoothly after your death.
In smoothing the probate process, a Will overseen by legal experts on business ownership can ensure continuity and minimise asset disruption. Protecting your life's work and your lasting legacy, writing a valid Will is incredibly relevant for all business owners.
In enlisting the advice and expertise of an estate lawyer for this circumstance, you invest in the future of your business assets and family support.
3. Peace of mind - Hiring an estate lawyer to write your Will can give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your estate plan is legally valid and accurately reflects your wishes.
That sense of security that your wishes will be approved and accepted by the courts is what writing a Will is all about. If using a DIY Will kit takes that security away, then we have to question whether it’s worth the cost ‘saving’.
What's the downsides of hiring a lawyer to write your Will?
So, you're sold. Whether it’s for peace of mind, a large estate or ensuring protection of your business and wider family interests- using an estate lawyer to write your Will has many benefits.
The only catch? Things can get very expensive. It’s where DIY Will kits get their appeal, and why many choose to opt in despite a lack of peace of mind.
How much does a traditional estate lawyer cost?
The cost of hiring an estate lawyer to write your will can vary depending on the complexity of your estate and the services you require. Generally, estate lawyers charge an hourly rate or a flat fee for Will-writing services and this can mount with the more updates and additions your document needs.
This rate for a solicitor can obviously also vary by state and location. But, according to the Law Society of New South Wales, the cost of a simple Will in Australia can range from $300 to $500. In contrast, more complex Wills can cost $1,000, or more. And these costs can rise with extra updates, changes to executor or additions of a power of attorney or trust funds.
The issue with costly estate planning
The cost of living is reaching an all time high in Australia, and with many families already being forced to make cut backs- writing a Will can quickly fall to the bottom of the priority list.
Despite knowing the benefits of getting an estate plan secured, this lack of priority can become ever more prevalent when considering the hefty cost of traditional lawyer fees.
How Safewill can help
The good news? Safewill offers a solution to everyday Australian families struggling with this issue.
In recognising that the cost of traditional lawyers has blocked many from essential estate planning- Safewill combines the thinking (and benefits) of DIY Will kits, without cutting corners on expertise.
Our online platform offers an easy, flexible and affordable way to write your Will from the comfort of your home and with the peace of mind that it’s been overseen by lawyers.
From appointing your executor to power of attorney, outlining beneficiaries, charity donations and setting up a trust fund- the Safewill platform allows you to input all your info, before being reviewed and written up into a valid legal document by expert lawyers.
Our affiliate, specialist law firm Safewill Legal ensures that you’ve signed the document correctly, and are available to help with any probate difficulties further down the line.
Get started today
Offering an affordable fixed fee, the Safewill platform even saves the stress of potential mounting costs when using traditional lawyers. It’s easy, it’s affordable and the benefits last (longer than) a lifetime.