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Why shouldn't I make a Will online?

26 August 2021 | Philip Sewell
Why shouldnt I make a will online Godfreys Law Christchurch

Why shouldn’t I make a Will online?

Why do I need a lawyer to make a will? Can’t I get something online and do it at home?

There are a few answers to those questions. But, is setting out how you would like your family to be looked after, and deciding what will happen to all your worldly possessions an area where you want to skimp on costs?

What can go wrong with a home-made Will?

There are a few companies that offer a ‘standard Will kit’ that you can create at home. You can also find companies that will allow you to type in your name, click a few buttons and create a Will online. These are generally presented as cheaper options instead of talking with a lawyer. Before choosing those options you must ask:

  • Will it be valid?;
  • Will it achieve what you want?; and
  • Can it be enforced?

Home made wills are generally a great source of work for lawyers, because tidying up the problems they create is difficult and expensive. Mostly, administering an estate where there is no Will, where the Will has been declared invalid or is challenged has to be done through the High Court. This adds to the expense, delay and uncertainty.

Over the years there have been lots of home made Wills and a variety of ways of expressing what the Will maker wanted. In one old but notable case, the instruction “all to Mum” was eventually carried out, but only after it went to the High Court to be sorted out!

Can informal Wills work?

This can still happen, if for example, the Will maker has given very clear instructions but then died before the Will is signed. A special application can be made to court to get this unsigned Will approved. It can be done, but it adds a lot to the cost.

Why home-made Wills don’t work

Like the informal Will “All to Mum” there are special provisions for people serving in the armed forces to make simpler Wills while on service, and that makes sense. But in peaceful times there’s no good reason to take the risk of getting it wrong. There are so many ways of getting it wrong but here are some of the main ones:

  • Writing changes on a will after it has been signed and witnessed;
  • Unstapling the will;
  • Failing to provide for back up executors in case the people named die before you;
  • Not identifying beneficiaries sufficiently; and
  • Not covering what happens if all the named beneficiaries die before you.

There are many more.

A Will as individual as you

As well as getting the wording right, we can advise on how the Will might interact with someone’s trust; or for example, how the way in which they own their house might defeat what the Will is trying to do.

There are many factors to bring into account – it’s not just a matter of choosing some clauses from a website and cobbling those together. Skilled lawyers like our Godfreys Life Law team know how to tailor a Will to suit every individual and their circumstances. It doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated – but we will help you get the wording right, and make sure it is signed and witnessed correctly, to make sure your wishes are followed.

Do you have a Will? When did you last review it? For more on getting a customised Will to suit you, contact the Godfreys Life Law team on 03 366 7469.

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Article by:

Philip Sewell


Client focused solutions and speed of delivery are important features of Philip's practice. He has been in the law for over 20 years - some would say this is too long, but he considers that it gives him a breadth of experience which is more important than technical knowledge alone.

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