Making a will in Australia by yourself
Although DIY will kits are a cheaper option than having a solicitor draw up your will, keep in mind you are writing a legal document that may be deemed invalid if not correctly executed.
Can I write my own will? Yes, you can write your own will, however keep in mind that this is an important document that is dealing with your life’s work. You will probably want to engage a solicitor who knows how to make a will as they have done it hundreds of times before.
That being said, anyone in Australia who is over the age of 18 years and who is of sound mind can prepare their own will.
To create a will, it must be:
- In writing
- Signed by the will-maker
- Witnessed by two people who are not a beneficiary or spouse of the will-maker
When writing your own legal will, you must also have ‘testamentary capacity’.
This means that you know and understand the legal effect of your will and are not inhibited from making rational decisions due to mental illness or impairment.
When making your will, the following tips will help get you started:
- Firstly, do your research. Look at some sample wills and think about what you might like to include in your own.
- Decide whether you will use a DIY kit, or if you prefer the guidance of a professional solicitor. If you choose the DIY option, it is a good idea to have a solicitor look it over anyway. There are lots of kits available online and some superannuation and insurance companies now offer them free as part of your policy.
- Ensure you understand the specific legal requirements for your state. Visit your state’s Public Trustee website to learn what is required in your area to create these legal documents.
- Make your wishes as clear and specific as possible to avoid any confusion at the time of your death. This is especially the case if there are minor children involved and you want to leave some direction as to what will happen to their care.
What you need to start making a will in Australia
Once you have done your research and understand your legal responsibilities, you can begin collating the information you will need to write your will.
You will need:
- A comprehensive list of your assets including property, stocks, bank accounts, super and any other investments
- The current names and addresses of your beneficiaries
- The details of your funeral (if pre-arranged), or a clear explanation of what you would like for your funeral (i.e. would you like a burial or cremation? Would you prefer it takes place at a church or funeral home?)
- The name and details of a competent executor (or two)
Having this information with you when you start making your will should make it an easy and stress-free process that ensures your wishes are carried after your death.