If you have ever considered getting your Will and Estate Planning sorted out, it can be a complex area. In my experience, with the various options available to you, it can be hard to know which way you should go.
In the above video and this article, I have looked at 3 different options you could choose when you are considering how to write a Will in Australia.
These options range in price and complexity. Hopefully, this will allow you to have a better understanding of which option is most appropriate for you and enables you to get your Will and Estate Planning finalised.
Finder conducted a research study back in 2018 and found that almost 1 in 2 Aussies did not have a Will in place. Anecdotally, I have found these numbers to be pretty accurate.
The consequence of passing away without having valid Wills means that you are deemed to have died intestate. This can lead to serious complications for those left behind with no guarantee that your money/assets will be distributed in accordance with your wishes. Even if the administrator does decide to allocate your assets in accordance with your intentions, this process can take a lot longer and can add stress to your loved ones at an already emotional time
Even if you do have a Will already written, one thing I find regularly is that this was completed some time ago and your circumstances have changed significantly. Even though you would be counted as having a Will, this is not current and would need reviewing.
Given what is going on in our lives at the moment with COVID-19, we all tend to have a heightened awareness for making sure we have our affairs in order as well as some additional time for getting on top of these "life-admin" style tasks.
So what are the options available to you for making a Will here in Australia?
Option #1 - DIY - Using an Online Will Kit
The most basic of the options available to you is completing a DIY Will Kit. These Will Kits can produce a legally binding Will when completed correctly.
I had a look at the offering from the State Trustees, who have a Will Kit offering for $31.50 and a Will and Power of Attorney Pack for $61. If you want to check this out for yourself, here is a link to their website.
Along with the template for completing your Will, the State Trustees include an information pack to help you successfully complete your Will highlighting areas to focus on so as this can be completed in a legally compliant manner.
Maurice Blackburn (who offer both a low cost + more premium service) have outlined some common mistakes made when preparing these DIY Will Kits:
Let me premise the above with the fact that I believe that Maurice Blackburn is trying to up-sell you into a more expensive Will, but these are some important factors to consider if you do choose to go down the DIY Will Kit path.
If you have basic needs (limited assets, no kids etc), this is a good entry point for documenting some of your intentions in a legally binding manner. Be sure to follow the guidelines and check out the common mistakes that can help you complete them successfully.
Option #2 - DWY - Hybrid Models
This is a more recent development in the Will space with a modern take on the traditional Will Kits. I have called these offerings "Done With You" services of DWY.
Built by lawyers, these online frameworks have been designed to guide you through the questioning required to make a legally binding Will which helps to avoid some of the common mistakes as noted in the earlier DIY Will Kit option.
One thing to note with these offerings is that they are not reviewed by solicitors nor does this constitute legal advice, rather a framework has been provided generally offering a chat support feature to help you should you encounter any problems using the service.
There are a number of offerings in this space, each having differences in the user experience. I looked into two of these offerings:
The first of the DWY Hybrid Models that I looked into was with SafeWill. From the moment you hit the site, it has been designed with you the user in mind. It has a clean and simple design with this elegant simplicity flowing through the portal where you enter your particulars.
I found that SafeWill had some really nice features to make the experience an easy process. I interviewed CEO Adam Lubofsky (check the full interview out here) who said that they designed SafeWill for "the everyday person to be able to create a Will in 20 minutes from their couch". I would have to say they have nailed this brief.
SafeWill has features such as being able to specify your individual assets as well as leave instructions for our furry friends which I think is a really nice touch.
Pricing for SafeWill is as follows:
Created as a collaboration between solicitors Vault Legal and an award-winning Risk Adviser, Willed is relatively new on the scene. Like SafeWill, they have built a user-friendly online portal that is easy to navigate. Whilst the questions are a bit more limited than SafeWill, again, this provides a more modern version of the Will Kit to help navigate the process of drafting your Will to avoid some of the common mistakes.
They offer phone and chat support (which I personally used and got a response in minutes on a Sunday). I spoke with Co-Founder Aaron Zelman (link to the full interview here) about Willed and he explained that Willed was the equivalent of what Ikea is to furniture. You will not get a bespoke custom-crafted piece of furniture but the system will deliver a very useable product.
Pricing for Willed is as follows:
I am biased as I am a sucker for all things tech but I really like these hybrid models. Limited in some ways as they do not offer Powers of Attorney (yet as I know they are working on this) or Testamentary Trusts, again, I think that these Hybrid Models offering are unreal and offer guidance to avoid the pitfalls of the Will Kit.
Again, if you have rather simple needs, I think these offerings are unreal coupled with the simplicity, this format is going to assist a lot of Australians with their Will which will help reduce the number of people who do not have this done.
Option # 3 - DFY via a Solicitor
If you have images of Hervey Specter sitting down with you to complete your Will, you may be disappointed. The traditional method of meeting with a solicitor is the most expensive of the options and will also provide the most bespoke and comprehensive solution for your Estate Planning needs.
Some of the key areas that differ by using this model are that in addition to providing you with a legally binding Will, these offerings can include:
You may not see these as being very beneficial however having sat in on multiple meetings over the years, having a solicitor articulate the power of some of these instruments based on your personal circumstances can be super powerful.
One thing that my clients had found difficult was getting access to high-quality solicitors outside of the capital cities. For a number of years, I have worked with a company called LegalHub which has a panel of solicitors across Australia who are set up to provide advice via video.
I spoke with Brant Dillon from LegalHub (check out the full interview here).
Brant said that the service that they have set up allows for you to receive the same high-quality legal advice and documentation without having to incur the cost and inconvenience of traveling into the city.
As far as pricing is concerned, this does vary based on your circumstances (do you have multiple entities, blended families etc) but as a guide, this will start around the $1,000 mark.
If your needs warrant this level of service, meeting with a solicitor to draft your Will is definitely one of the situations when you get what you pay for. Through conversation, often things are uncovered that you may not have even considered.