Wills: Don't try this at home

Why some lawyers love homemade wills

Money
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Thinking of preparing your own will? Read this first.

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WHEN it comes to preparing your will, you might want to think first before doing it all yourself.

That's the advice of probate expert and lawyer Emily Nixon. She says people often ask: 'Why can't I draft my own will?'.

"Well you can. In fact, there is an old joke that lawyers love homemade wills because lawyers make so much more money after your death, when things go wrong," said Ms Nixon, who is a director of Perth-based law firm Bespoke Wills and Estates.

"It amazes us that some people don't want to pay a relatively modest amount to engage a lawyer to prepare their will, but the same person will regularly pay their accountant perhaps thousands of dollars every single year."

She said if you do decide to draft your own will, accept that you are taking a risk with a very large asset.

"We practice exclusively in the area of wills and estates and this means we frequently see what happens when people draft their own wills.

"The variety of errors in homemade wills are too numerous to mention, but the errors range from various technical problems, caused by not understanding the importance of various will drafting conventions, through to simple errors made at the time of execution of the wills."

She said often the problems could be easily avoided if a competent wills lawyer had been consulted.

"As a result, thousands of dollars are spent in Supreme Court applications and there is inevitably a very long and stressful delay in moving the estate forward.

"We also frequently see the bitter disputes and expensive litigation that ensue as a result of distribution decisions made by eill makers. This is particularly so in blended families or in families with ongoing conflict.

"In our experience very few families escape some type of conflict. Long-standing resentments between siblings in even the happiest of families can inevitably rise to the surface after the death of a parent. We often spend considerable time with clients discussing various possible scenarios and considering strategies to reduce future problems.

Ms Nixon heads Bespoke Wills and Estates with Shirley Tascone.

"We both have enjoyed many years' experience in what is an interesting but at times rather technical area of the law," said Ms Nixon.

"Making a will is a very personal, and sometimes emotional process and at times a difficult thing for people to face. However we take pride in our ability to make the process as painless as possible, and we love seeing the relief our clients feel when they have their affairs in order."

www.bespokewillsandestates.com.au

Free wills advice in WA

Residents in the Western Australia's South West can get free advice on wills and deceased estates at a series of community events.

The free seminars in Busselton, Pemberton and Collie are being hosted by the Public Trustee from February 18-20.

Find out what really happens if you die without a will, who can challenge your will, and what executors and administrators do.

At the seminars, visitors will learn about the importance of writing and safely storing a will, navigating the deceased estate administration process and safeguarding decision-making in later life my preparing an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA), Enduring Power of Guardianship (EPG), Advance Health Directive or by applying for Guardian or Administration Orders.

Whether you have an estate plan already in place, or would like to help your ageing parents or a spouse, these seminars are relevant to everyone.

At City of Busselton, Undalup Room, Busselton on February 18, 5.30-7pm and Febuary 19, 10.30am-12pm.

At Pemberton Sports Club, Pemberton, February 19, 5.30-7pm and at Collie Public Library, Collie, February 20, 10.30am-12pm.

Bookings essential, phone 1300 746 166 or visit trybooking.com/BGTRM

For more information on the Public Trustee visit publictrustee.wa.gov.au

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