One area where professional advice usually makes a big difference is in the creation of wills.
There are simple Do-It-Yourself versions that you can buy from stores where you fill in the blanks yourself, and get no advice at all. Naturally this is a very cheap option – which is often the appeal for people (we all know that lawyers can get quite expensive!).
Before rushing off to get a DIY will and doing it all yourself, there are a few things you should consider:
- At best a DIY version is only good for a “simple Will”. The type of situation where it may work well is perhaps a single person with only a few beneficiaries and a fairly simple estate in terms of assets or possessions, such as some household chattels, a car and basic bank accounts. Once other assets (e.g. Kiwisaver; investments) or other people (partner; children, ex-partner) start becoming part of the picture things can get complicated fairly quickly and the DIY Will probably doesn’t cut it.
- There are different versions that people can buy, or perhaps just download from the internet, and questions should be asked about the quality of the explanatory information and structure of the will kit. How does the non-professional know whether the information is right?
- A real danger area is getting the will completed properly and legally. Once all “the blanks” have been filled in, there is the matter of getting it signed and attested properly. There have been many cases of DIY Wills that were not signed correctly, resulting in problems of beneficiaries fighting over the estate.
This is an area where we really do have to acknowledge that “we don’t know what we don’t know”, and that is where the danger lies. Without the help of a properly qualified and experienced lawyer, you may not realise what issues are not being addressed properly, or what steps haven’t been undertaken properly.
In general terms DIY Will kits are really no substitute for considered, personal and professional advice that takes into account all the variables and factors in your life – and then puts the right personalised solution in place for you.
But it has to be said that a DIY Will is better than no will.
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