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Before rushing to generate your will online remember there are several aspects to estate planning done only after a thorough investigation by a lawyer of the client’s circumstances. Can the logic of such an investigation be built into an online wills service?

Challenges to the validity of wills has been on the rise. Most commonly a beneficiary or someone left out of the will claims the testator lacked testamentary capacity or was under undue influence, the will was signed under suspicious circumstance, or the testator did not provide adequately for their spouse or children.
Challenges to the estate are costly and could be easily avoided by engaging a lawyer to prepare your will.

I have included an example of the investigation process I undertake in the preparation of a client’s estate plan.

An important step in the estate planning process is to ascertain what assets and liabilities form part of the client’s estate. Forexample, some jointly owned assets or assets held in a trust cannot be gifted in a will.

Below is a chart with assets commonly owned by a testator.

One of the most important tasks for a lawyer advising on your will and estate plan is to identify key risks.

Examples include:

  • Protecting your estate assets in case of a financial failure
  • Ensuring that gifts to spendthrift beneficiaries are protected from creditors
  • Life risk
  • Marriage or relationship breakdown risk – a binding financial agreement may be suitable
  • Taxation issues
  • Family business retention

Below is a chart which gives examples of some of the risks and the potentially affected persons.