Are ‘homemade’ updates to a will valid?

Font Size:

YourLifeChoices members have queries about ‘homemade’ alterations to a will and a plan to pass on half a home to ‘children’. Estate planning lawyer Rod Cunich explains how they should proceed.

•••

Q. Glenda*
We had our wills compiled via the Red Cross service some years back but when we followed up with the organisation who did it for us at the time, we established that the firm no longer existed. Using the wills compiled at that time, we effected some changes to the documents ourselves and have signed them. Is there a body with whom they need to be registered? What is the process I should follow to ensure they are legal and valid please?

A. In short, you’ll have to see a solicitor to check the documents. Homemade changes to wills are often invalid as they don’t comply with formal legal requirements concerning format and/or execution.

The public trustee services in each state will often review and draft free wills but usually require that you make them your executor, which can result in very expensive administration of your estate. It’s often financially better to pay the cost of a solicitor up front.

•••

Q. Linda*
If I pass before my husband, can I leave my share of the family home to our two children on the condition that the house can only be sold if my husband wants to sell?

A. You can achieve your desired outcome but you may need to do a few things to achieve the result.

First, find out if you own the property as joint tenants or tenants in common. Only if held as tenants in common can you achieve the outcome. It is an easy and relatively cheap process to change from joint tenants to tenants in common if necessary.

Once the title is tenants in common, there are several ways to then implement your plan.

You’ll need tailored legal advice to determine which is best in your circumstances. It may be as simple as including a conditional gift to your children, but to minimise chances of dispute between your children and husband a more complex arrangement may be required. 

The good news is that you can achieve your wishes. 

* Not their real names.

Rod Cunich is a lawyer with more than 30 years’ experience who specialises in estate planning. He is also the author of Understanding Wills and Estate Planning.

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

RELATED LINKS

How to set up a fund for the grandchildren; how to find an executor

Estate planning expert Rod Cunich answers your questions on trust funds and executors.

How can you tell if you are being left out of a will?

Candice is worried her mother is trying to cut her out of her will.

What to do with insurance policy on wife’s life?

Patrick asks Rod Cunich for help on how to bequeath insurance on his wife's life.



SPONSORED LINKS

Sign-up to the YourLifeChoices Enewsletter

continue reading

Finance

Ambulance costs around Australia

There should be no hesitation when you have to call an ambulance in an emergency situation, but some people rushed...

News

Four tell-tale signs that you may have a blood clot

A blood clot is a clump of cells and protein in your blood. Blood clots form to slow down bleeding...

Finance News

How much you can save on electricity in your home state

As we prepare to head into the colder winter months, there is good news for those worried about heating costs...

COVID-19

What is thrombocytopenia, and why did it stop the AstraZeneca jab?

Anthony Zulli, Victoria University; Maja Husaric, Victoria University; Maximilian de Courten, Victoria University, and Vasso Apostolopoulos, Victoria University Australia's medical...

Wellbeing

Ways to manage death anxiety

Winston Churchill once said: "Any man who says he is not afraid of death is a liar." But while it's...

Food and Recipes

Rick Stein's Autumn Vegie Soup

"One of the rather pathetic realities of the fact that so many of the restaurants in France are disappointing these...

Government

Australians give big thumbs down to the public service

Only 27 per cent of Australians believe the public service acts in the public interest and only 22 per cent...

Brain health

Normal tension glaucoma linked to cognitive impairment

Australian researchers say they have established a link between the eye condition glaucoma and cognitive impairment, the state that often...

LOADING MORE ARTICLE...