Is a post office will good enough? Surely it’s better than nothing, right?! Check out my VLOG about why it’s vital to have a comprehensive estate plan in place and the pitfalls of relying on a Do-It-Yourself will kit.
Hi. It’s Tara here. I often get asked as an estate planning specialist why you can’t just use a post office will. So, I wanted to share my thoughts on whether a post office will is good enough, whether it’s a good enough substitute for a proper estate plan and better than nothing. So firstly, I’m an upfront estate planning specialist. I’m not an estate litigator. So, you may, in fact, get a different answer from a person who does estate litigation. I think in many cases, a post office will, which is a will template that you get from the post office that does not have the involvement of an estate planning specialist in the drafting, is not going to be good enough.
There are technical nuances around how to craft a will and often the post office template will not guide you through that. So, you can end up with outcomes where the drafting is unclear, the interpretation is unclear and you have to go to court where you beneficiaries and executors are fighting over what you meant after you’ve passed away. Or, it might be that you don’t address enough contingencies in your will and a proper estate planning lawyer will be able to guide you through all of those different contingencies and get the drafting right so that there is no ambiguity. You might have heard on some of my previous videos the importance of testamentary trusts and you’re guaranteed that a post office will is not going to include a testamentary discretionary trust.
So, while a post office will is a very cheap and effective way to get an estate plan in place straight away, it can often end up being very expensive and time-consuming for your family and loved ones if they have to litigate over uncertainties in the post office will. So, often you’re saving money upfront, but it’s going to cost a fortune and add a huge amount of stress and erode the value of your legacy if it’s not done properly and they all end up in court after you’ve passed away. And, the other thing to remember is that a will is only one part of the estate planning puzzle. The post office will doesn’t give you your powers of attorney. So, these are the documents which apply if you’re still alive, but if you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself and nominate people over your financial and your personal and lifestyle matters.
And it also doesn’t close out the piece of the puzzle relating to your superannuation and any life insurance you might have in super. And for a lot of people, that’s a huge part of their wealth. So, I am not an advocate for post office wills. I think they’re more trouble than they’re worth. I think they lull you into a false sense of security. Get your estate planning done properly with a specialist who can guide you through all the issues. And if you do that, it should be almost set and forget. You should be able to get in place a strategy that you can just review regularly, perhaps every year, tinker with around the edges, but it’s largely going to be appropriate for you, and in the long run, achieve the right outcomes for your loved ones. Thanks for watching.