Thursday, November 7, 2013
In a recent judgment involving a family dispute over a substantial estate, Australian Supreme Court Master Craig Sanderson warned that “homemade wills are a curse” and inevitably lead to protracted and expensive legal battles.
Sanderson clarified that homemade wills may work where the testator owns limited assets and the beneficiaries are not in dispute. However, where estates are substantial, the will is opaque, and beneficiaries are in dispute, “the inevitable result is an expensive legal battle which is unlikely to satisfy everyone.”
Sanderson said this particular legal issue could have been avoided if the man had merely consulted a lawyer. Those that believe making a will is a simple project that they can do themselves may not know the nature of what they own or the certain words or formalities necessary to execute a valid will. And even if testators are reluctant to share the contents of their will with their children, informing their children of their wishes will very likely avoid the likelihood of future disputes.
See Natasha Boddy, Court Brands Homemade Wills a Curse, The West Australian, Nov. 1, 2013.