“45% of Australians do not have a valid Will.”
A Will must conform to strict legal requirements otherwise the Courts may decide it is not valid. If you are not legally qualified to write your own Will, you run the risk of making mistakes, creating uncertainty or losing opportunities for good estate planning. That is why it is not advisable to prepare your own Will without expert advice.
Guidance for Wills
If you plan on writing your own will using a will template, it needs to comply with certain criteria to be valid. These include:
- Unless married, you must be over 18 years old (The Supreme Court can approve a Will for people under 18 only in exceptional circumstances)
- The person writing the Will must have “testamentary capacity”. This means:You know the legal effect of a Will
- You must be aware of the extent of your assets
- You must be aware of the people who would normally be expected to benefit from your estate
- You must not be prevented by reason of mental illness or mental disease from reaching rational decisions as to who is to benefit from your will.
- Wills must be in writing in order to be valid (handwritten, typed or printed).
- A will must also be signed and dated by the person making the will (the “testator”), in the presence of two witnesses.
- Each witness must see the testator sign the document and then co-sign in each other’s presence. The names and addresses of witnesses should be also printed below their signatures.
- A witness must be at least 18 years old, sound mind and capable of seeing the testator sign the will. The executor or a trustee named in your will may also be a witness. However, A person who is receiving a gift under the will (a “beneficiary”) should not witness the will as it may cancel their entitlement.
- The testator should sign at the bottom of each page of the will, as well as the attestation clause at the end of the document. Alterations should not be made after the will has been signed. If alterations are necessary, these must be initialled by the testator and both witnesses in each other’s’ presence.
- The original copy of the will should be marked “Original” and stored in a safe place known to the Executor(s) of your estate and your family or close friends.
A Will is an important legal document, with the precise wording of a Will being a specialised and significant legal task. It is therefore advisable to have your Will professionally drafted to ensure your wishes are properly recorded and carried out.