When it comes to something as important as your Last Will, it’s natural for many people to assume that the legal document needs to be prepared by a lawyer sitting in the plush office of a traditional law firm. Yet, if your circumstances are straightforward, then a lawyer’s costly time may be wasted.
Here, we explore the role that Australian law firms can play in helping people with Wills and estate planning services; and we look at other options available to you.
Why people lean on law firms
For generations, law firms have played a respected role in people’s lives. The family lawyer is a trusted representative, someone you can go to for everything from property purchases to advice about your family business. Indeed, becoming a lawyer is still something that many young graduates aspire to – the legal profession is held in high regard.
And, for generations, many people have assumed that legal documents like their Last Will have to be drawn up by a lawyer. Estate planning remains the bread and butter of smaller Australian law firms. They offer professional services to help you with your Last Will, as well as things like estate planning, power of attorney, and legal advice about appointing guardians.
The cost of using an Australian law firm to write your Last Will
Yet going down the path of engaging a law firm for your Last Will can be costly. Generally, a basic Will prepared by a lawyer in a small law firm can set you back around $600. In this simple scenario, you’ll likely have the opportunity to appoint an Executor, assign your estate to your spouse, perhaps gift one or two special items to other people, and appoint a guardian for your children.
If your needs are more complex, then you will pay even more for a Will that is prepared by a lawyer. When you engage a law firm to help with setting up a testamentary trust for your children, for example, the costs can run into the thousands. Of course, in some circumstances, this cost is absolutely warranted and is money well spent as it helps to ensure that your complex needs are met.
You may not need to step foot in a law firm
What many people aren’t aware of is the fact that a lawyer is not always needed for the preparation of a legal document like a Will. Other options are available to you.
An online Will writing service like Wilbr Wills produces the same standard Will that you’d get from a traditional law firm – plus some valuable extras – for a much smaller fee. With Wilbr, as well as being able to appoint an Executor, guardians and beneficiaries, you can also gift any number of specific objects to loved ones, and make your funeral wishes clear. What’s more, you can jump back in at any time to update your Will for a small flat fee; and you have the peace of mind in knowing that your Will is securely stored in the cloud, along with messages to your loved ones if you’d like, and will be sent to your Executor when the time comes.
And the price? Just $139.
But is an online Last Will legal?
You’ll need to do your due diligence to make sure that the online Will kit you choose is legit. It’s spelled out on the Wilbr Wills home page that our template is prepared by senior, experienced lawyers – so there’s peace of mind for you right there.
Then, make sure you follow all the steps in the template. Complete all of the requested fields and make sure the information you provide – right down to the spelling of people’s names – is 100% accurate.
Then, to make the Will legal and binding, you will need to get it witnessed by two adults over the age of 18 who are not beneficiaries in your Will. Generally, the witnesses must be in the same room as you to watch you sign the document – although the recent global pandemic has seen some states introduce temporary digital witnessing rules.
With Wilbr, you just need to print your Will and have it signed and witnessed in accordance with our signing guide, which we share with you when you’re ready to sign. It’s that easy.
A warning: free or cheap online Wills can be fraught
If your situation is super simple, it might be tempting to think that a free or cheap online Will is enough for you. But, as we explore here , free and cheap options are often poor quality and full of holes – which could end up costing your family a lot more in the long run.
So, do your research and have a think about your specific needs. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether you need to use a law firm to prepare your Last Will. But for many, the answer will be ‘no’.
This communication was prepared by Wilbr. Wilbr is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice. This communication is intended to provide commentary and general information only. This communication should not be relied upon as legal advice for any purpose. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons named in this communication may not be lawyers or admitted to practice law.