Post Office (PO) Wills – as they are often called – are found in a pack in post offices or newsagencies and cost around $25. The packs contain a booklet with a blank Will that can be completed by anyone over the age of 18 with mental capacity – the Will maker.
I had a client recently whose father was the Will maker and used a PO Will.
I took the opportunity to read the instructions for the Will to make up my own mind about its contents.
How often do people read instructions when purchasing a product, rarely, never?
A suitable Will can only be made by reading , considering and acting on instructions with care.
It’s not until page 17 of the booklet that provides a step-by-step guide to prepare the Will. There is a lot of reading to get through before this.
This suggests that preparing a Will is not a simple procedure.
There is insufficient information on who is suitable to appoint as executor. Are family members suitable? Does an executor have to be financially savvy? Can an executor be overseas? Can I appoint a backup executor?
The booklet I reviewed uses old English language such as legacy, bequest, devise and residuary – not necessary in current day wills.
A Will maker can appoint legal guardians to look after their child or children.
Issues not considered in the booklet are:
- who would be a suitable guardian;
- an explanation of how children can be financially provided for from the estate funds;
- a guardian may be left funds to renovate their house or buy a new car to assist with housing the children.
The Will maker can state if they want their body organs donated on death.
A Will is not the appropriate document for an expression of such a wish.
Usually, the Will maker’s organs are no longer viable for donation by the time the Will is reviewed by family members.
This is not an exhaustive list, but a few points that came to mind.
Other matters not referred to in the booklet:
- Usually, a Will cannot gift superannuation;
- What are the duties and liabilities of executors?
- PO wills are not suitable for blended families;
- Family unhappiness and a claim on the estate can occur if family members are left out of a Will. This is less likely to happen if the Will is drafted by a solicitor.
The Will maker of the PO Will (and accompanied booklet) that I reviewed, died. I was acting for his sole executor being his Australian son. He left his estate to his Australian son and left nothing to his two other sons. They both live overseas.
An unhappy settlement was finally agreed between the brothers after the threat of legal action by one son, a brief appointment of a NSW lawyer and a caveat on the probate application and additional legal fees to resolve it.
My view remains the same, that PO Wills are not recommended for anyone.
Always consult a solicitor.