North Sydney Commercial Lawyers

Cheap wills are a cursePrint This Post

Cheap wills are a curse

You can get a cheap will: they can be homemade for example.

But before you do, first consider the comments of the court in Gray v Gray [2013] WASC 387: “Homemade will are a curse. All this could have been avoided if the testator had consulted a lawyer and signed off on a will which reflected his wishes. There is no question but that engaging the services of a properly qualified and experienced lawyer to draft a will is money will spent.”

Or else think of Boettcher v Driscoll [2014] SASC 86, where the handwritten document recorded an amendment to a properly prepared will to allow a beneficiary to “have use of the house for as long as he needs it”.

The Court concluded that the document was an informal will but it was void for uncertainty. So the signed will remained unaffected and the beneficiary could not use the house at all.

The use of will kits is also an alternative. They are keeping the Courts very busy. In Colbourne Hogben (dec’d) [2014] SASC 91, the Court had to consider a photocopy of a will kit form with handwritten instructions on it. The only gift was $1,000 to the Port Adelaide Football club. That worked. But there was an intestacy for the residue of the estate – $594,000.

What about the deceased who left her estate to “my sister’s children” – Warren v Leo [2014] NSWSC 494. The Court concluded that this meant “my sister’s child but not her step-children”.

But in Josef Bernhard Nies (dec’d) [2014] SASC 93, we are told that “my children” meant the deceased’s late wife’s children; this is, his former step-children.

Words, words, words – lawyers are good at using them. Try them for a change and your beneficiaries will love you forever.