People ask whether they can do a 'post office' Will, which is a make your own legal will kit, or whether they can do a 'simple' one page document.
The short answer is you can, the longer answer is it may not work and may create a different result to the one that you had intended.
Why is your Will document so long?
We don't merely make a long Will document for the sake of it, we are trying to cover a number of things in the longer Will document including:
- what happens if the house that forms part of your Estate can't be sold immediately because the banks have drastically changed their lending criteria?
- what happens if one of your beneficiaries dies at the same time as you, or shortly after you?
- what happens if the Executor needs to borrow money, for instance to fix something before it can be sold because of the prevailing consumer laws at the time?
What would happen for instance if the smoke alarms in your house weren't up to code, or the laws were changed so that all smoke alarms had to form part of a back to base alarm system. The correct terms in a Will can make a big difference, either saving the Estate money or saving the Executor themselves from having to argue with beneficiaries and defend themselves against accusations that they have failed in their duties.
We have acted for clients who have the right to take a certain action as a matter of legislation, but because an argumentative beneficiary cannot see that right spelt out in the Will it created unnecessary stress and delay.
But my Estate is simple
Most people think their Estate is simple, that the Executor won't have any of these problems, and everything will just go to the right person.
The problem is that the issues mentioned above aren't connected to how simple your Estate is. The property market could take a real dive shortly after you die, or your house could be slated for a significant rezoning, or the Executor could receive a compulsory acquisition notice. We also see the requirements of banks shifting in relation to Estates, or your Executor might have paid for your funeral or your Probate filing fee on a credit card and now wants reimbursement for the interest paid on that debt because obtaining Probate can take a long time.
Lastly a beneficiary could make a claim against your Estate, or somebody claiming to be a beneficiary (such as somebody claiming to have been in a romantic relationship with you) and your Executor has to manage the assets on an ongoing basis including re-investing or leasing assets.
It can make a significant difference to your Executor if you have properly prepared your Estate.
Estate planning is more than Wills
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