The High Court has recently granted probate of an invalid Will made using a template Will kit bought from a stationery shop. 

The Will-maker did not want to prepare her Will through a lawyer, as she thought it would be too expensive. She asked her sister to purchase a template Will kit for her.

The Will-maker completed the first page of the kit, which stated how she wished her estate to be distributed on her death. This page indicated that the Will-maker wished for her estate to be divided equally between her five children. This first page was witnessed and signed by two witnesses.

However, the Will-maker failed to complete and sign the last two pages of the Will template, and it was undated. This meant that the Will was technically invalid, and after the Will-maker’s death the sister applied to the Court to have the Will validated. 

The Court had to determine whether the attempted Will should be validated.

The Court can make an order declaring a document to be a valid Will if it is satisfied that the document expresses the deceased person’s testamentary intentions.

When determining whether the document should be validated, the Court may consider:

a.    The document;

b.    Evidence on the signing and witnessing of the document;

c.     Evidence on the deceased person’s testamentary intentions; and

d.    Evidence of statements made by the deceased person.

In this case, the Court decided that the Will-maker had obviously used the Will template to avoid having to incur the costs of a lawyer. The document was clearly intended to be a Will and followed a standard template.

The Court also considered that parts of the document were signed and witnessed, and those parts clearly outlined the Will-maker’s testamentary intentions. The witnesses provided evidence that they did not realise that they were required to sign the last page of the document.

The Court concluded that there was sufficient evidence of the Will-maker’s testamentary intention and that was reflected in the document. An order was made to grant probate of the Will.

This case reflects the further expenses and family stress that can be incurred because of not preparing, signing and witnessing a Will correctly.

While it may seem easy and less expensive to create a Will yourself, expenses related to Court hearings and other requirements to validate the Will you didn’t get right are almost always much higher than creating the Will correctly in the first place.

Preparing a Will correctly for most people will cost several hundred dollars. Meeting with a lawyer, preparing for court, and attendance at a court hearing to try to validate a document made through a Will kit that does not meet the requirements will stretch into thousands, and there is even then no guarantee that a court will validate an incorrectly created Will.

It is important to obtain legal advice when preparing your Will. If you are confused about how to go about creating a Will, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.